Fly fishing in Lake Taupo. Image credit: Great lake Taupo
Local body councils have had a gutsful of the fluoridation issue. Most councillors don’t have the skills to objectively judge submissions – and the field is so controversial they get plenty of these. It’s also an area where extremists and people with obsessions are very active.
So it is no wonder that local body councils are asking for this whole issue to be taken off their plate. For it to be handed to central government, the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards.
Abuse and libel of councillors
A few days ago a Taupo District councillor, Dave Cozens, gave examples of the personal abuse he was receiving from an anti-fluoride extremist (see Councillors abused and libelled by anti-fluoride activists). He is one councillor who has done his own research on the topic:
“I was elected to office in 2013 and in my time in that position I have endeavoured to understand the finer details of what is the very controversial Fluoride Debate.
I approached the issue with an open mind in hope that whatever evidence I came across would steer me toward a well-informed path and that this would then encourage some solid proper decision making to occur.
What I found was a vast weight of material that supported the retention of Fluoride in our public water supplies and little substantiated proof that existed to support the contrary. There was however a wealth of alarmist articles ranging from fluoride’s use in the death camps of World War II to the decalcification of bones in children of third world nations. All of these articles appeared to be written by lay people with questionable, if any, notable qualifications.
Admittedly it can be proven that there can be some ‘mottling’ occurring on the teeth of a few scattered members of the community however the benefits displayed to the larger population appear immeasurable. It should be noted that this particular evidence was actually provided by the World Health Organisation.
I have spoken to doctors, dentists, orthodontists and scientists – all of whom support the continued use of Fluoride.
Not one single professional has contacted me to argue its removal from supplies.”
The fact he did his own research appears to have been enough reason for targeting by a Facebook page affiliated* to Fluoride Free NZ:
” I have been made their ‘poster boy’ for what they call the ‘poisoning of children’ in the area. I have received emails threats of legal action, accusations of committing murder, supposed land theft, instigating the dumbing down Māori as a race and now this negative rant has made its way to Facebook courtesy of aTurangi Anti-fluoride page. They have also linked that page to my professional work websites. “
He has repeatedly asked this group to come to him with peer-reviewed material or published documentation supporting their cause:
“But it seems that no amount of reasoning nor gentle coaxing will encourage them to meet me with a round-table discussion and the hope of finding some middle ground.
The hate and anger that has been delivered to me on this topic is beyond anything I have experienced before. It is both slanderous and distasteful but moreover it takes us to a dark place as a community because we as a population in the Southern Lake area are not like this – we simply don’t treat each other this way – it’s not our culture. I have now involved the Police, lawyers, Council and of course Facebook in hope that they will bring an end to this distasteful episode.”
It reminds me a bit of the clamour around the Hamilton City Council over the fluoride issue. When the Council mistakenly decided to stop fluoridation in 2013 suddenly council members (well, all except one who opposed the decision) could do no wrong. They were being quoted by Fluoride Free activists as experts on the issue.
After the Hamilton City Council decided to accept the wishes of the voters and return fluoridation last year they were ridiculed and attacked by the very same Fluoride Free activists. Well, one of the councillors (the only one to vote against the decision) is not attacked. Suddenly he became the darling of the local Fluoride Free activists.
Politics attracts some funny people. But there seem to be none so weird as the anti-fluoride activists involved in local body politics.
* Of course this affiliation is informal – FFNZ doesn’t have a formal membership as such. But the use of the FFNZ link in the Facebook page “about” section (see screenshot below) certainly implies an affiliation.
Of course FFNZ could formally dissociate their organisation from the Facebook page and from the abusive and libellous content. I suspect they might prefer to claim it is not their page but not to do this formally – a sort of deniability – because the attitudes expressed.certianly represernt many of the people active in their movement.