**Democracy and Freedom of Speech my azz:
L.A. Times writer defends incendiary Iraq column
Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:27 PM ET
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Times columnist who infuriated conservatives by writing that he does not support American troops fighting in Iraq -- and calling those who do "wusses" -- stood by the article on Tuesday.
Joel Stein said he has been "bombarded" by hate mail over the incendiary article -- which was headlined "Warriors and Wusses" and held that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were "ignoring their morality" -- but does not regret writing it and stands by the premise.
"I don't support what they are doing, and I don't the see point of putting a big yellow magnet on your car if you don't," Stein told Reuters in an interview. "I don't think (soldiers) are necessarily bad people. I do plenty of things that are wrong too. But I don't agree with what they are doing so I don't see the logic of supporting it."
The article, which ran on the Times opinion page on Tuesday, was quickly linked on conservative sites across the Internet, where readers poured scorn on Stein, on the newspaper and on liberals in general.
"If I ever run into the a**hole, I'm going to knock his frickin' block off," one man wrote on the Little Green Footballs (www.littlegreenfootballs.com) Web site, one of nearly 500 people who had commented on the article by mid-afternoon.
Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin quickly nominated Stein as "one of the most loathsome people in America." The Irish Pennants (www.irishpennants.com) site slammed him as "slime" but gave credit for honesty, adding:
"At least he is straightforward slime."
A Times spokesman said he could not immediately determine how many complaints the newspaper had received or if any readers had canceled subscriptions.
Stein said that, despite the fact that his e-mail address was not made public by the paper, he had received some 100 "hate e-mails" by noon.
"They're telling me to leave the country, which sounded good at first because I thought they meant a vacation. But they didn't mean a vacation," he said. The columnist said he suspected the reaction was largely fueled by the Web sites, adding: "My guess is that it will die down pretty quickly."
Stein said he had long considered the issue and that whenever a politician opposes the war but supports the troops "I just always think they are covering their ass."
Asked if he had regrets, he said: "No, because I'm against the war. (I have no regrets) if this helps us get out of that war and bring our troops home safely."