Joshua Drummond is a Hamilton freelance writer and cartoonist who doesn't enjoy agreeing with Judith Collins. His website is cakeburger.com
But agree with Judith Collins he does; however reluctantly. He has written the following opinion-piece in the Waikato Times:
Really, Hamilton City Council? Seriously? I can't believe you've done this. I never expected it to happen. You've got me agreeing wholeheartedly with Judith Collins.
This hell-freezing-over moment happened when Collins referred to HCC's decision to remove fluoride from Hamilton's water supply as "bollocks," and "absolutely gutless."
I couldn't agree more, although I've frequently used choicer words to describe the decision over the last couple of days - the most print-friendly of which are "utter cowardice" and "witless imbecility."
Of course, Judith Collins and I are not the only ones who think it's a bit silly. Condemnation has rained down on Hamilton from throughout New Zealand. Just what we needed to boost our image, eh Council?
Where to start with this one? Let's begin at the top, with Mayor Julie Hardaker's statement responding to Collins' invective.
"My council and I have sat through four days of what I would regard as a very, very good process, listening to and receiving info, evidence, data, statistics, expert advice from both sides of this debate."
Um, no. No you didn't. You willfully set aside actual expert opinion and the weight of evidence, instead listening to a mixture of cranks, otherwise credible people with a crank bone, and crazies. It's the equivalent of a local body deciding whether climate change or evolution exists or not. (Both do, just to annoy the cranks out there.)
When someone mentions hearing from "both sides of the debate" in this situation, it speaks volumes. There aren't two sides to this debate - there is a weight of evidence favouring fluoridation, and mostly fringe evidence against it. Let's say, for a given issue, evidence is 95 percent in favour and 5 percent against. You don't then convene a tribunal where you hear submissions in a 50:50 ratio of for and against.
The council has committed the fallacy of the false equivalency. The weight of the evidence is in favour of fluoridation of water as a public health initiative. This is a fact, and Hamilton City Council have ignored it.
This is forthright stuff from Mr Drummond, but we share his basic premise; that there is an abundance of evidence of the positive benefits of fluoride in the water supply. As we said last week, we reckon that the Hamilton City Council has made a significant error of judgment, and some elected officials will see that on polling day later in the year.
But Joshua Drummond is on a mission, and he's yet to deal with (or should that be "deal to"?) those who have swayed Julie Hardaker and some of her councillors; read on:
Never mind that the scales were tipped against fluoridation from the start - a fact that was boasted about by the anti lobby. Spearheading the local effort was Pat McNair, head of the Fluoride Free Hamilton campaign.
You may know her from the letters page of every newspaper in a 500 kilometre radius. Speaking in the Waikato Times before the tribunal, she crowed that "more than 130 people from all walks of life would be speaking at the hearings" of which "only 11 people have been confirmed to speak in favour of fluoride."
Well, you'd think that if numbers were the issue, that the 2006 referendum in which 70 percent of voters were in favour of fluoridation would have settled it. But numbers ultimately shouldn't matter here. Evidence should.
The seven councilors who voted against fluoridation have been led astray by a lobby which is very effective at scaremongering (it's a chemical! It's a poison! It harms our precious bodily fluids!) and lying.
Part of the wider problem is that cranks tend to have more time to get their lobby on than average citizens do. Some said, in the aftermath of the decision, that we only had ourselves to blame if we hadn't made a submission.
That's completely wrong. What we've seen here is a systemic failure.
Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that now she's won a hopefully temporary victory over the humble fluoride ion, Pat McNair shouldn't lack for things to do. She's a stalwart of the local effort to complain about chemtrails.
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading up on the matter, let me enlighten you: the chemtrails conspiracy theory is basically that we're being doped and/or geoengineered - the literature is not quite clear on which - by secret aircraft that leave tell-tale "chemtrails" behind.
I hope it's not necessary to spell out that chemtrails are complete bollocks, with (as is usual with conspiracy theories,) a very small nugget of truth at their centre. The things the conspiracy theorists point out as chemtrails are generally contrails - which have been around about as long as there have been aircraft - or clouds.
Well, here's Pat McNair on the matter recently, on the ever-informative Northland New Zealand Chemtrails Watch website:
"The day started out with fluffy white clouds, but they soon disappeared and were replaced by stripy, stretched-out examples of the very thing we were there to protest. Thanks everyone! It was fun!"
Congratulations, Hamilton City Council. You have kowtowed to people who protest about clouds.
"But numbers ultimately shouldn't matter here. Evidence should." We could not agree more, as far as this debate is concerned. As we noted last week even the New Zealand Dental Association, whose members stand to become considerably busier should Hamilton push on with its ban of fluoride, has spoken out in SUPPORT of the continued fluoridation of town water supplies.
The Hamilton City Council has made a significant error, in our ever-humble opinion. The effects of that error are likely to be felt both at the upcoming local body elections, but also in the years to come unless the incoming council decides to revisit the matter, and evaluate the scientific evidence instead of the quackery that the current council has been so swayed by.
FOOTNOTE: If you want some entertainment (if that's what it can be called), check out the comments section below Joshua Drummond's opinion-piece.