(This was posted by Patrick Sullivan Jr.)
I flew from Phoenix to Philadelphia last Thursday to attend a protest demonstration on Friday outside the downtown convention center where thousands of dentists were attending the annual American Dental Association meeting. The purpose of the protest, organized by Pennsylvania Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry and supported by Consumers for Dental Choice, was two-fold. First, to help promote awareness among the citizens of Philadelphia that "silver fillings" are 50% mercury. And second, to show the ADA that as consumers, we will no longer stand for their gag rule that hinders dentists from allowing patients to give informed consent when deciding which dental filling material to use.
(Hint, it should NEVER be mercury!)
First a few pictures...Here you can see the entrance to the Philadelphia Convention Center, pre-rally.
During the rally, there were protesters on both sides of the street. By my estimate, there were about 30 or 40 protesters, most of whom were wearing green shirts. This obviously wasn't a big group, but in my opinion, there were definitely enough of us to be noticed. In the 2 hours that we were outside, I would estimate that 2,000 - 3,000 dentists walked through that entrance and hundreds of Philadelphians walked by. (More on my discussions with several dentists later in the post.)
Along with our green "smoking tooth" T-shirts, we had a lot of signage. I thought this "head in the sand" sign was particularly good at helping to remind dentists that when the lawsuits begin, as they inevitably will, the ADA has stated quite emphatically that they have no liability to protect/defend amalgam use. (Read the orange box in this post.)
After the protest, the group marched to Philadelphia City Hall for a press conference. (More on this in a different post.)
The entire event made the local evening news for Philadelphia ABC 6. I think the coverage was fair and balanced. And it helped to accomplish objective number 1. (Sorry, but as of Monday afternoon, the story had not been transcribed for their website.)
The media coverage of the rally and press conference was actually decent -- and by that I mean there were reporters and camera crew in attendence at both events *-- but I think the PR firm did a HORRIBLE job of handling the media personel to make sure that the dissenting view got fair coverage. Case in point, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a 343-word, 95% pro-mercury, pro-ADA story. ( BugMeNot.com to get past the registration.) Not well done at all.
I spoke to about 20 or 25 individual dentists as they passed by heading for the convention center. Here are my statistically invalid observations.
All in all, the event was pretty good and the rain didn't start coming down until the last sign was shoved into the back of the car. PERFECT timing. (Thanks Mom! ;-) But it's obvious by the press coverage that we've got a long way to go before the ADA will break -- which is HIGHLY unlikely to happen and probably will never happen without litigation -- and before consumers are made aware of the danger that is leaking out of their "silver fillings."
Related Post on Pat Sullivan Blog:Mercury Toxicity & National Amalgam Awareness Week
UPDATE 10/12/05: Dr. Markus posts a few more pictures and has more commentary here. You'll note in his entry that Dr. Buttar, Dr. Geier, and David Geier -- all despised by the anti -mercury/autism crowd -- were all at the press conference in Philadelphia. I did not mention this in this blog post because I wanted to write a separate entry about it. Unfortunately, a few work projects have been getting in the way of blogging again.;-) I promise to write about my encouter and discussions with each of them ASAP.
* UPDATE10/12/05 12:56pm PST: I added the disclaimer ("and by that I mean there were reporters and camera crew in attendence at both events") because after re-reading my own writing, one might mistakenly think that I am saying that I thought the press coverage was favorable. The ABC 6 evening news piece was fair, but the Inquirer story was awful.
UPDATE 10/14/05 9:48am PST: The transcript of the story by Philadelphia ABC 6 has been posted here. I mentioned previously on this post that I thought the story was fair and balanced. Reading back through the transcript, I think I've changed my mind.