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Michael Smith

A Vietnam veteran was arrested in Kansas City yesterday for allegedly spitting on actress Jane Fonda during a book-signing event.

Michael A. Smith, 54, reportedly waited in line for 90 minutes, passed a book to the Academy Award winner, and then spit tobacco juice into her face.

Though he attempted to flee, he was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct.

Fonda declined to prosecute Smith, and issued a statement through her publisher stating: “In spite of the incident, my experience in Kansas City was wonderful and I thank all the warm and supportive people, including so many veterans, who came to welcome me last night.”

Fonda has become a polarizing figure in the wake of the Vietnam War.

In 1972, she was photographed laughing on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft tank.

She has since expressed regret, stating in 1988, “I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.”

Smith told the Kansas City Star that Fonda is a “traitor” who had been spitting at war veterans for years.

“There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did,” Smith told the paper.

The incident is getting reaction in online messageboards today, including the following postings:

  • “As a veteran and a surviving son of a Vietnam casualty and a recent Kansan (5 years), I can express nothing but embarrassment for Smith’s actions and how it reflects on our great community. My father didn’t die, nor did I serve for any other reason than to allow others the very same freedoms we stood for. Smith ought to read Fonda’s book, maybe it’ll provide some closure that he’s obviously struggling with.”

  • “I would like to pay Mr. Smith’s bail. He is a true patriot.”

  • “I don’t like what [Fonda] did and will never forgive her. If I was on a jury to sentence the tobacco spitter I’d say ‘if she deserved the spit, you must acquit.’”

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