Bucking the ice bucket

It’s gimmicky, wasteful and a hazard to your health. It misses the point and supports testing on innocent animals. Or it’s maybe just not worth dousing a presidential suit.

So say the naysayers of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The dare, documented in cellphone videos filling up your Facebook news feed, calls on people to either write a $100 check to the ALS Association or dump a bucket of ice water over their head. Since the challenge began, the association said it has received $41.8 million in contributions to fund research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Although a handful of celebrities, professional athletes and political figures — such as Mark Zuckerberg, Martha Stewart and Chris Christie — have taken part, others — such as President Barack Obama — have not. Obama politely refused Ethel Kennedy’s challenge a couple weeks ago while vacationing in Cape Cod. According to the Boston Globe, our dry Commander-in-Chief said in a statement issued through spokesman Eric Schultz: “The president appreciates Mrs. Kennedy thinking of him for the challenge — though his contribution to this effort will be monetary. The president will be making a donation to an ALS charity this week.”

A number of Ice Bucket Challenge party-poopers have said no.

Money magazine reporter Jacob Davidson, whose father died from the disease, wrote an opinion piece in TIME called “We Need to Do Better Than the Ice Bucket Challenge.” One of his points was that, according to the rules of the game, those who saturate themselves with ice water likely aren’t even donating to the cause. He pointed out that taking the challenge is the way out of writing a check, though the charity said the purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness. Plus, it doesn’t mean you can’t do both. In one of the more viral videos, former President George W. Bush writes a check, saying, “I do not think it’s presidential for me to be splashed with ice water, so I’m simply going to write you a check. Then Laura Bush enters the frame, throws a bucket of ice water over his head and gives a scripted reply: “That check is for me. I don’t want to ruin my hairstyle.”

Some argue it’s a waste of water. There’s a drought in California — and in central China.

The Hong Kong Medical Association warned that the challenge could have serious consequences for the elderly, pregnant women, people who have heart conditions or those who suffer from high blood pressure. Association president Louis Shih Tai-cho said people in these at-risk groups could go into shock when frigid water comes upon their heads, according to the South China Morning Post.

And, on a more serious note, Pamela Anderson came right out and refused, claiming the charity supports animal testing, People reported. Anderson explained on Facebook: “Mice had holes drilled into their skulls, were inflicted with crippling illnesses, and were forced to run on an inclined treadmill until they collapsed from exhaustion. Monkeys had chemicals injected into their brains and backs and were later killed and dissected.”

Then there’s Vladimir Putin.

Vin Diesel challenged the Russian president, and although he didn’t firmly decline, a spokesperson said he likely wasn’t aware of the dare – and apparently has more important things on his presidential to-do list.

“We’ve had other things on our agenda,” spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian newspaper Lenta.ru.

Patrick Stewart probably had the right idea:

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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