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Nothing to fear but gullibility itself

The sign said: “Honk if you’re against blasphemy.” A small crowd had
gathered outside a theater parking lot to protest opening night of The Da
Vinci Code.

They wanted us to see their sign, honk our horn and skip the movie.

“We’re against blasphemy, aren’t we dear?”

“Of course, honey. Honk that horn.”

You had to feel for them. Not just because they’d have been more comfortable
at home, and not just because they made easy targets for mockers and
scoffers, but because they sincerely felt threatened by a movie.

As if The Da Vinci Code actually was going to bring down their faith.

Once you see the movie, you’ll feel even sorrier for them. It may have been
the best-selling novel since Harry Potter (and what does that tell you?),
but it’s a pretty corny movie. The audience actually giggles at the big
revelation in the last reel.

Someone should be on the street corner with a banner, “Honk if you’re
against gullibility.”

Seriously. What kind of suckers are we? Can’t we distinguish between a real
threat and an imagined one?

Take all the histrionics over Sen. Sheila Kuehl’s so-called gay-textbook
bill. Do we really think some teen-aged boy is going to head to the
playground after social studies and announce, “I used to think Sally was
hot, but not anymore, not since I found out Walt Whitman was gay.”

And do we really live in a country where Congress wants to make English the
official language? Someone actually thinks English needs protecting. What,
are we French all of the sudden?

It’s like we’ve lost the collective ability to see baloney for what it is.

Sure, if you’re a devout Christian, you don’t want someone questioning the
divinity of your savior. But, before you go dragging your kids out in the
middle of the night for a feckless protest, shouldn’t you take a closer look
and see if there’s a real threat? This story collapses on its own conceit.

Ultimately, The Da Vinci Code is about as convincing as National Treasure,
in which Benjamin Franklin uses invisible ink to draw a treasure map on the
back of the Declaration of Independence. (Talk about blasphemy. Where were
the history teachers protesting that one?)

And ultimately, these corny threats against heterosexuality or marriage or
English all collapse under their own weight.

There always have been gay kids, and if hundreds of years of trying haven’t
lured them into being straight, it’s unlikely straight kids can be lured
into being gay. Why worry?

There always have been neighborhoods where English is a second language. And
all generations of immigrants from all nations have a grandmother or a dad
who never got the hang of the language you’re reading now. But don’t
underestimate the gravitational pull of the larger, English-speaking culture
that surrounds those neighborhoods. The kids of immigrants never have been
able to resist that pull, and they probably never will.

We don’t need language laws any more than we need protection from religious
fiction. What we do need is a nice bracing dose of skepticism.

Honk if you can think for yourself.


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