Search the Archive:

Back to the Table of Contents Page

Back to The Almanac Home Page


Issue date: August 09, 2000

Learning to love, or hate, fluoridation Learning to love, or hate, fluoridation (August 09, 2000)

By Alan Sissenwein

Almanac Staff Writer

Emotions often run high over the fluoridation issue, but no one has ever suggested fluoridating water would lead to the end of the world ... except for film director Stanley Kubrick. In 1964, Kubrick bestowed a kind of cultural immortality on the fluoride debate when he lampooned it in his Cold War satire "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Kubrick's movie mocked a host of 1950s fears, ranging from supposed Communist conspiracies to concerns that fluoride would destroy the public health.

Kubrick's nightmare comedy begins with psychotic Gen. Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) launching a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Ripper justifies his actions by saying he is defending his country against the Communist scheme to destroy Americans' bodily fluids by fluoridating the water.

"I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids," Ripper proclaims.

In another scene, he calls fluoridation "the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we've ever had to face."

While the general's delusions ultimately destroy the world in "Dr. Strangelove," the fluoride debate itself has outlived the Cold War, and Kubrick's comedy was recently hailed as one of the funniest movies ever made by the American Film Institute.


Copyright © 2000 Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Reproduction or online links to anything other than the home page
without permission is strictly prohibited.