Last few elections, my sister greeted canvassers to her door with the blunt demand to know their stance on gay marriage.
I suppose coming from a young mother of small children in a rural constituency, this mightn’t be seen as a trick question, but my sister has long been an advocate of marriage equality. She says the answers to her question revealed all she needed to know in under a minute. (With a referendum on marriage equality promised next year, maybe some were even listening.)
In the recent elections, I’d planned on borrowing a leaf from her.
Anyone looking for my vote would be asked where they stood on the matter of water fluoridation. I’d use the words “National scandal”. I’d say “Grave public health concerns”. I’d even go the full “Liveline” and work in the beloved phrase “Apsalute disgrace Joe”.
And I’d let their answers to my question separate the wannabe politicians from the complete and utter charlatans.
You see, previous members of Cork County Council met a well-organised anti-fluoridation campaign and voted overwhelmingly to call on the Irish Government to stop fluoridating drinking water. Eyeing the looming local elections, the Government responded by promising to set up an expert group to examine the issue. Despite the fact that we already have an expert group which has, repeatedly, reaffirmed the benefits of fluoridation.
Despite fifty years of clear public health benefits, politicians bowed to conspiracy theorists, some of whom enjoy a lucrative sideline in selling expensive water filtration devices. Some of these paranoiacs, without any actual academic qualifications, declare themselves scientists and call fluoridation a conspiracy, not to improve our dental health (which, even in the age of fluoride toothpaste, it unarguably does) but to instead keep the Irish docile.
Rather than telling these misguided eejits where to go, Cork County Council instead demanded the immediate cessation of what the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention called “one of the 10 greatest public health measures in the 20th Century”.
(Knowing Cork County Councillors, I’m sure they’d probably call for the cessation of water chlorination too, life-saving rather than just tooth-saving though it is, if they thought there might be a chance of an auld vote in it.)
A conspiracy to fluoridate the Irish to make them docile? I presume then that when Brian Cowen handed over Ireland’s smouldering ruins, he told Enda “If you’ve any sense at all, Blondie, you’ll keep pumping them with th’aul fluoride. ‘Twas the fluoride was only thing that saved us at all.”
Don’t mind mind-controlling water-taps. We live in a country that can’t even organise a telephone tap without bringing down governments. It’s pretty much the same the world over. Massive conspiracies don’t work because humans are just not that competent. We can’t keep a secret. We boast, we fall out, we vie for favour, we get drunk and we gossip. I’m sorry to tell you but the world simply isn’t that sexy a place.
I wish it were. Area 51 Aliens? How cool would that be? Imagine if ET had been shaping the world since the end of WWII. (Which was, of course, when the Lizard People wrested control from the Illuminati, which had been in charge since its founder Adam Weishaupt secretly replaced his double George Washington in 1776.)
The aliens would at least have given us jetpacks by now.
The sad, unglamourous, truth is that the world is a pretty boring place and there actually isn’t anyone behind the curtain. On all available evidence, George W. Bush couldn’t have organised a surprise barbecue, let alone bring down the Twin Towers. It was religious fundamentalists. It almost always is.
Unless, of course, that’s what the Lizard People want you to think. Which is a thought that’s gonna fester…
I spoke recently with a Government minister about Cork County Council’s fluoridation vote and they likened it to the Skibbereen Eagle wagging its finger at the Czar of Russia. This was just a meaningless gesture of appeasement to a noisy pressure group and this notion of an expert group is the usual kick to touch.
It’s also an utter waste of public time and money, giving a veneer of legitimacy to people who decide they are scientists because they can lift out-of-context phrases from legitimate studies and twist them to fit their agenda.
I suppose I watched too many episodes of “The West Wing” and now have an unrealistic belief that politicians should actually stand for something and should provide leadership.
I know, I know. Look, if you see the run of myself, tell it I’m looking for it. I think the Lizard People took it.
And if that seems silly, trust me. I’m a scientist.
Sadly, I also live in an apartment building, so the politicians never came a-knockin’. Which is also clearly a conspiracy.