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The Dispassionate One

Already, I can see the day fast approaching when I will be the only person in America, and possibly the world, who hasn’t seen “The Passion of the Christ.” And it won’t be because I’m a stubborn mule. OK, it won’t just be because I’m a stubborn mule.

To be perfectly candid, from the moment, many months ago, when I first heard what Mel Gibson was up to, I said to myself, “Good for Mel. If that’s how he chooses to spend $25 million, more power to him. But there is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to go to a movie in Aramaic about Christ’s final 12 hours.”

For one thing, I don’t really like subtitles – if I feel like reading, I don’t need to leave the house.

For another thing, I’m all too aware of Gibson’s penchant for cinematic blood baths. And as surprising as this will be to those of you who know me to be one tough cookie, I’m very squeamish when it comes to movie violence. I’m not opposed to it because I think screen sadism will bring Western Civilization tumbling down, but simply because it makes me sick to my stomach.

I’d like to think it proves that I’m extremely empathetic, but it probably means I was potty trained way too early. Either way, I do my level best to avoid any movie more violent than a “Road Runner” cartoon.

I didn’t even like it when Spartacus got crucified, and since, in that film, the guy up on the cross was Kirk Douglas, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it might have been. Old Kirk just gritted his teeth and looked mildly inconvenienced. You could almost hear him growling, “Is this the worst you can do, you Roman wienies?! Call this a crucifixion?! I call it a stroll in the park. You haven’t even hurt my feelings!”

So, while all the tumult has been swirling around Mr. Gibson and his movie, I’ve managed to stand silently by, an innocent bystander, and it hasn’t bothered me in the least. Years ago, you see, during the very same week, I turned down passes to both “Oh, Calcutta!” and “I Am Curious-Yellow,” even though I knew I’d be odd man out at three months worth of cocktail parties. But I had simply made up my mind that it was OK not to be at the epicenter of every pop-culture controversy that came down the pike.

So, while some of you are arguing yourselves blue in the face over whether “The Passion” is pro- or anti-Jewish, and others are getting into fist fights over whether Mel Gibson has more in common with his dingbat dad than their DNA, I’ll happily sit this one out.

Read any good books lately?