Henninger's new stock in trade seems to be the announcement of some non-existent threat to society, followed by assurances that we'll all get through this dark time somehow. Just last week he was saying that a new wave of "clean" comedy was going to save us from filthy-mouthed Hollywood. (He also admitted to enjoying old Eddie Murphy routines, which suggests a wonderful picture: Henninger, whose manner on "The Journal Editorial Report" is that of a funeral director with constipation, relaxing in a Barcolounger and, when Ralph Kramden tells Ed Norton to fuck him in the ass, clanging open his mailslot mouth to emit the old Mr. Machine shriek of pleasure.) Now he suggests, on the strength of one provocative book, that atheist scientists are coming to burn down our churches. Exhibit A: The Treason of the Bookstore Clerks!
When I asked a young clerk at Borders on lower Broadway if they had Richard Dawkins's best-selling atheist manifesto, "The God Delusion," he replied, "Oh, we'd better: It's a fantastic book!" He swept the quarter-mile across the store to make sure I got it. "Enjoy!" he said sounding, well, triumphal."Swept," eh? Must be a fag, too. Yet through the godless science of IVF, he will unite with Lileks' bete noir, the small-breasted, unsubmissive hair stylist, and spawn a race of monsters!
The trope is risible, but what's a culture cop to do? The post-Foley era has taken some of the zest out of his racket. "Conservatism: The Anti-Sex" can only sustain so many columns, and even some right-wingers are tiring of the drug war. So it's down to the stems and seeds of psychodrama for Henninger till a new Pat Buchanan emerges to re-energize the scam.
I look forward to forthcoming columns in which he accuses "American Idol" of leading an assault on the Second Commandment.