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Published: Sunday, 5/21/2006

Secret of 'Da Vinci' is: It's fiction

Before I write a single word, first an apology: I'm not in the habit of writing about local protests without having actually spoken to the protesters.

It's presumptuous, to say the least, to pretend any confidence whatsoever in knowing someone else's point of view without so much as stopping to ask. But today, with apologies, I do.

To be very clear, then: I am writing about an actual protest sign, without having interviewed the teen sign-holder or his teen co-protester.

For this, I blame my husband. We were leaving the Maumee 18 Cinema De Lux Friday night around maybe 9 o'clock or so. We were in a hurry to get somewhere else.

(OK, full disclosure: We were in hurry to get home to the couch, which makes my oversight the more unforgivable.)

Pulling out of the parking lot, I spied a protest sign held high by one man out on the sidewalk along Conant Street, on what was the opening day for the mysteriously controversial movie The Da Vinci Code.

"Hey," I demanded in that polite way of wives everywhere, "stop! I want to talk to those guys!"

He shot me a look.

"It's Friday night, we're both tired, we're on our way home. I beg of you, no interviews tonight!" he pleaded while yawning, his foot firm on the accelerator.

Since I had made the mistake of not putting myself behind the wheel, I had no choice but to watch today's column recede in the rear window.

Still, I jotted down the words from the protest sign. And, as I did this, I was quite sure that I knew, even without asking, what these protesters would have told me.

Presto! Even before the protesters disappeared from view, today's column was resurrected.

Had I stopped to interview the protesters, the main thing I would have asked about was the whole fact-versus-fiction business.

My Oxford American dictionary defines "fiction," in part, as: 1. a product of the imagination. 2. an invented story.

So I would have asked: OK, just what is it about this movie, this 150-minute piece of celluloid fiction, that merits protest? And the protesters, I'm quite sure, would have spoken about the danger of failing to make that exact distinction. They would have said something like:

"How many people will be misled for just that very reason? How many people will see this movie and assume it presents the truth?"

Then I would have asked something like: "OK, the few people who truly cannot distinguish between fact and fiction - I mean, we're really talking about people who would find a trip to the supermarket intellectually challenging, right? Don't these folks deserve more pity than protest?"

And the protesters probably would have countered with something like: "This movies blasphemes our most cherished beliefs!"

And I would have glanced again at their sign - which cited a movie that opens early next month, and is based on a fictional character - and, frankly, I would have been at a loss for words.

Down with Garfield 2! CATS CAN'T TALK!!!

Who could argue with that?

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