A Moral Obligation to Tell the Truth
H A P P Y N E W Y E A R !
We achieved one of the two goals of our fundraiser - we received donations from 512 people. The latest total is $74,168 (and there is still the mail to come in). This is the most FAN has ever raised and the greatest number of donors in any FAN fundraiser! A wonderful achievement which positions us very well for this year's struggle to end fluoridation worldwide.
A big thank you to everyone who made these grand totals possible and for others who help the effort to end fluoridation in many other ways.
In the spirit of the New Year, we will extend the great offer on FAN's new coffee mug for the entire week up to January 7: $50 instead of $125.
And now we are going to hear from an incredibly important FAN team member. Not only does Carol Kopf serve as FAN's media officer, she puts out press releases for the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation (NYSCOF), she emails a daily Fluoride News update, and still finds time to respond to nearly every newspaper article and blog that mentions fluoridation. She has been fighting fluoridation for nearly 30 years and in this piece she explains how and why she got started and why she has kept going all these years.
Statement from Carol Kopf, FAN's Media Director
"You have a moral obligation
Those words propelled me into this fluoridation fiasco so many bruised and battered years ago after I handed in a Pro/Con fluoridation paper to satisfy a Journalism 101 college class requirement. My professor, who uttered those words, said I had to investigate it further to take a side. So I did.
I wrote, called and/or visited at least a hundred or more government agencies, health and water departments, legislators, researchers, the media, and Judge Flaherty who, with a science background, presided over a Pennsylvania court case where fluoridationists were forced to tell the truth, under oath, and subjected to cross examination. His ruling: "...the addition of sodium fluoride to the public water supply at one part per million is extremely deleterious to the human body..."
"Is this so" I wrote the Judge again.
Flaherty wrote to me that the NYS DOH official uttered a "mistruth." Fluoridation couldn't be stopped by a judicial order - only a legislative one. The merits of the case stand.
That's when I first learned, as Chris Neurath had, that government agencies lie to us. And they continue to fudge the scientific truth, even today, when it comes to fluoridation and fluoride.
Fluoridationists invariably sent me a Consumers Reports' magazine article (with no byline) published by Consumers Union which looked suspiciously like a similar article written by a fluoridationist in a dental publication. I wrote the Consumers Union Board of Directors about this apparent plagiarism, detailed the similarities; but no one really cared. I also received many (too many!) copies of Stephen Barrett's crazy name-calling article identifying us as "poisonmongers," although it is he who peddles the poison (the dictionary definition of poisonmonger).
Often dismissed or ignored, calls never returned, legislators who wouldn't come to the phone or their outer offices to speak to me, I was mostly sent glossy PR stuff and little, if any, science and encouraged to blindly trust the professionals. A Newsday reporter put me on speaker phone and laughingly accused me of being with the John Birch Society (who were they?).
But those opposed to fluoridation were easy to reach, answered all my suspicious questions, and sent me anything I asked for, explained what I didn't know and were extremely kind people, to boot. No one was making money off of this. In fact, it actually cost them money. NYSCOF guided me to be diplomatic, respectful, non-inflammatory and above all to be absolutely accurate in what I say and do.
Now convinced ingesting fluoride was unhealthy for my two small children, I had to get fluoride out of Levittown's water. As an idealist who knew almost nothing about politics, I didn't know that what I was about to do was "impossible." So when my Town Council didn't welcome my information with open arms, I was really surprised - just as Dr. Paul Connett was when he first approached the Canton, NY, village council to stop fluoridation with sound science. This probably has happened to many of you.
So, with enormous help from the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluordation, Inc. (NYSCOF) we began to gather citizen support. As far as politicians are concerned numbers work when science doesn't.
It started with petitioning house to house, at malls and anywhere else people would congregate and letters to our Town Board. Finally, then presiding supervisor Tom Gulotta created a Citizens Advisory Committee on fluoridation with 7 people for and 7 against fluoridation to decide the issue; but didn't. We came out the way we went in - evenly divided. The pro side was all dentists except one. The only science they shared was an old Tasmanian study. They didn't bother to read or refute our information.
It was then decided that Levittown water customers would make the decision. But that meant a huge educational campaign for us. Most people didn't know fluoride was in the water or, if they did, thought it was to purify the water.
So a town effort began. Karl the artist created the flyers. Joan owned the printing store that made the flyers. Mary called the people, whose names were on the petitions, asking for donations for advertisements, bumper stickers and stamps.
The two Pat's, Joanne and others went door to door delivering flyers. Three Carol's ran the Levittown Safe Water Association. Joy, Evelyn, Paul and Dr. Carlton spoke before many Levittown groups. We wore "Stop Fluoridation" sweatshirts to the 50's dance with Barbara and Annette. Our state legislator sent a pro and con piece to every house in Levittown. Our kids made posters. Eleanor Krinsky was our backbone and mentor.
Although the weekly Levittown Tribune instigated fluoridation in 1954, it was hugely helpful in presenting our side of the issue, mostly unreported by the daily newspaper,Newsday.
The vote went 2 to 1 in our favor and fluoridation stopped in April 1983. I stood beside Presiding Supervisor Tom Gulotta as he ceremoniously turned off the fluoride machine.
A New York Daily News editorial said Levittowners' teeth would rot because they followed the advice of a journalism student. But according to NYS Department of Health statistics, there are more rotten teeth in fluoridated New York City than in neighboring non-fluoridated Long Island, where Levittown is located.
Because of fluoridation, I switched my major to biology with a minor in journalism because I thought the media didn't understand science; but I could help them out. (HA!)
At NYU's Science and Environmental Reporting Masters' Program (SERP now SHERP), I was shocked when one of the first texts given to me was a Quackbuster book replete with Stephen Barrett's insulting and unscientific rant "Don't Let the Poisonmongers Scare You."
Also, when a New York Post editor was a guest speaker, I asked what kind of fluoridation article she would accept. She said none. Further, anyone submitting such a story would never ever get published by her on any subject.
As recommended by NYU's SERP Director, I contacted the ultra-liberal NY Village Voice, known for its controversial articles, but they also wouldn't publish a fluoridation story from someone who opposes fluoridation.
(Note: The current Director of NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP), Dan Fagin, is author of the excellent Jan 2008 Scientific American article, "Second Thoughts About Fluoride." I never met Dan.)
When I first went online in 1995, the whole world opened to me. I haven't looked back since. There are no editors, advertisers, dentists or old stale beliefs to stop me from getting the truth to the people.
When asked why he didn't cover fluoridation, a TV reporter told me our leaders weren't credible.
Dr. Connett and FAN filled that vacuum.
FAN, and the Connett family especially, has been an incredible asset which has infused this issue with more respect, more professionalism, more exposure, more positive media attention and many more victories!
Back in the 1980s, our side wasn't even mentioned. We had to put on a pony show to get into the papers by, for example, protesting, picketing or having an organized run against fluoridation. Journalists thought themselves so clever by using dialogue from a fiction movie (Dr. Strangelove) in their stories. We wished they spent more time in science class instead of at the movies.
FAN's presence on the internet has allowed today's googling journalists and legislators to find our information easily and, with little effort, connect with professionals whom they can quote in their articles or invite to their meetings. A click of the mouse leads them to the science that fluoridationists say doesn't exist.
While NYSCOF does issue our own news releases, they would be inconsequential if we didn't have the FAN science to link to and FAN's professionals to support us.
In the 1980's fluoridation hearings were held in New York City where experts from all over the country came to testify. The legislator who set it up said he would back away if we didn't engage the media. The media ignored us, he dropped the issue and nothing happened. That's why my focus is on PR and why I am FAN's Media Director.
So we are incredibly excited that seven New York City Council Members have co-sponsored legislation ( Int 0463-2011 ) to stop fluoridation. It was initiated by City Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr who has pledged that he will not back down on this issue.
If you live in NYC, it's imperative that you contact your own City Council Member to co-sign and support this legislation, write letters to the editor supporting it and share this information with other New York City friends, relatives and co-workers.
Also, sign the petition to NYC Mayor Bloomberg to stop fluoridation in New York City.
I'm often asked why I do this. There is so much wrong in the world and so little I can do about it. Fluoridation is what I know best and where I can actually effect change. Besides, it simply feels right. And FAN is the premier group fighting fluoridation, today. We need to know you support us
Carol Kopf, BS, MA
Fluoride Action Network
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