Here & Now #8

S Sorrensen
Lismore. Thursday, 4.15pm

The newspaper on the counter of the video store shouts ‘Court of Appeal approves fluoride for Northern Rivers’.

Oh goody.

Mass medication through the water supply. What a great idea. Actually, it’s always been a great idea – in comic books.

Mass medication has been the evil ploy of many a tyrant. Superman, upholder of clean water, stopped Lex Luthor from doing it via Metropolis’ water supply. Lex wanted mind control over the good citizens of that fair city.

Oh, and Batman saved Gotham City from poison dumped into that city’s drinking water. The poison turned your face white and made you cackle crazily. And then you died laughing. (Good one, Joker.)

In post-war America, Luthor’s and the Joker’s idea of messing with water became a reality and state governments began dumping fluoride in the drinking water. Back then both fluoride and cigarettes were good for you.

So, where was Superman? Had he changed his mind about water purity? (I believe he was wandering the flattened streets of Hiroshima, pondering the American way.)

Local councils have a responsibility to supply clean drinking water. Simple. Councils try, but with state governments hell-bent on polluting the water (whether it be aquifer, reef, river or tap), this is not an easy task.

There’s little doubt that fluoride is good for your teeth. That’s why since fluoride was introduced into toothpastes in 1970s there has been a marked improvement in the health of people’s teeth, worldwide.

You want even more fluoride than in your toothpaste? Buy fluoride tablets. Drink tea. They contain fluoride. So do pesticides and cigarettes.

There are many ways to get fluoride without adding it to the drinking water. In some countries you have an option of buying fluoridated milk or salt. But it’s an option.

Interestingly, the countries that are most into fluoridating their drinking water are the US and, obediently, Australia. The coalition of the filling.

The girl scans the DVD I’m renting, snaps the cover shut and flashes a lovely smile at me. She has good teeth. I smile back.

Okay, maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe hunting in national parks is an enjoyable pastime for the whole family. Maybe coal seam gas mining will give the mined communities long-term prosperity and a sustainable environment. And if the state government says you must add a waste product from a Chinese fertiliser factory to your water supply, then maybe you should.

To object means you’re just a negative, conspiratorial, whingeing hippie – like Al Oshlack, the bloke who led the fight against the compulsory fluoridation of most North Coast drinking water. (Byron is safe for the moment.)

The state government says it’s good for the whole community. Perhaps it is. But adding medication to the water supply sets a dangerous precedent. Maybe the state government should force councils to add denture cleaner for the elderly. Maybe add Viagara on weekends. And Prozac at election time.

As the smiling girl hands me Superman Returns, a voice behind me says, “Hello S. How are you?”

It’s Al Oshlack.

“Hey Al.”

Al points to the headline.

“They reckon I have to pay $500,000 in legal costs.”

Al is in alter-ego mode. Without his costume, you wouldn’t pick him as a hero. He’s a skinny bloke who obviously can’t afford a haircut, let alone half a million.

He looks tired. It’s tough constantly fighting for truth, justice and the non-American way.

But there’s still a way, Al: blue kryptonite.

I’d suggest that to him but I’m certain that Al (Kal-El) already has that as Plan B.

(Ed note: Blue kryptonite makes toxic water suitable for human consumption.)

One response to “Here & Now #8”

  1. Kevin says:

    No, your not a negative, conspiratorial, whingeing hippie.
    You are a funny man who is absolutely spot on!
    Run for the next election, start the safe drinking water party… you’ve got my vote.

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