A judge has refused to block distribution of Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko's article calling political extremist Lyndon LaRouche a cat killer.

"The court does not believe the speech - although it may be inappropriate and nasty - constitutes `fighting words,"' Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas O'Brien said Friday.The column, syndicated through the newspaper, claims LaRouche followers have killed their opponents' cats - a claim LaRouche followers deny.

"I hope that this column finds its way to his fellow inmates," Royko wrote in the column. "They should know that they have a cat killer in their midst. And I hope any cat lovers among them do whatever they feel is appropriate."

LaRouche attorneys had sought to block distribution of the column, contending it was written to "urge or incite Mr. LaRouche's fellow inmates to do physical harm to him."