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Ursula K. Le Guin blasts Oregon 'Right-Winged Loonybirds'

Ursula K. Le Guin blasts Oregon 'Right-Winged Loonybirds'
Writer and Oregon resident Ursula K. Le Guin has some choice words for the armed protesters who have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (Benjamin Reed / For the Los Angeles Times)

Legendary fantasy and science fiction novelist Ursula K. Le Guin isn't happy about her hometown newspaper's coverage of the armed occupiers who have taken over a national wildlife refuge in Harney County, Oregon.

In a letter to the editor of the Oregonian, Portland resident Le Guin blasted an article that the newspaper published in print with the headline "Effort to free federal lands."

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The headline was "inaccurate and irresponsible," Le Guin wrote, and "The article that follows it is a mere mouthpiece for the scofflaws illegally occupying public buildings and land, repeating their lies and distortions of history and law."

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, popular among bird enthusiasts, was taken over on Jan. 2 by an armed group of protesters led by Ammon Bundy. The occupiers are protesting the conviction of two Oregon ranchers of arson on federal land.

"Ammon Bundy and his bullyboys aren't trying to free federal lands, but to hold them hostage," Le Guin wrote in her letter. "Instead of parroting the meaningless rants of a flock of Right-Winged Loonybirds infesting the refuge, why doesn't the Oregonian talk to the people who live there?"

In an email to the progressive news blog ThinkProgress, Le Guin said she is a regular visitor to the region around the refuge. "We spend a week every summer on a cattle ranch very close to Refuge lands," she wrote. "The Refuge Headquarters is a quiet, fragile, beautiful little oasis that is particularly dear to us."

Le Guin has long been famously outspoken on political and environmental matters. In 2010, she collaborated with photographer Roger Dorband on a book called "Out Here: Poems and Images from Steens Mountain Country," inspired by an area adjacent to the Malheur refuge.

ThinkProgress asked Le Guin if she thought the Bundy militia would use their time occupying the refuge to write fiction. Her response: "Yep. When pigs fly."

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