Brittney Griner could've pounded Alex Stein. But Stein poses a different kind of threat

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Let’s get something straight: Alex Stein is no threat to Brittney Griner or the Phoenix Mercury.

The right-wing provocateur is a threat, but not to professional athletes. Griner could snap him like a twig.

Alex Stein is a video-recording instigator who harassed and badgered Griner as she walked through Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Saturday.

He is one of a growing number of vloggers or streamers who do a similar schtick — record themselves accosting the public with stupid pranks and stink-bomb antics.

More: Brittney Griner's harassment at Dallas airport detailed in police report

Alex Stein is purposefully obnoxious

Stein’s particular schtick is to harass the perceived opponents of conservatism. Griner was his target because she in years past has protested the national anthem at WNBA games.

You have to watch Stein to appreciate his level of obnoxiousness.

He’s always got it dialed up to cringe-worthy high. He badgers and provokes people hoping to get a reaction that will make his video catch fire.

If you didn’t already hate conservatives or conservatism, Stein is your man. This is conservatism with hellfire and little-devil horns.

On Saturday he screamed insults at Griner, who returned in January to the United States and her Phoenix Mercury team after nearly 10 months in a Russian prison.

Griner won her freedom when the United States exchanged the prisoner Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” for her release.

Brittney Griner, to her credit, didn't react

Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner watches from the bench during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever on June 11, 2023, in Indianapolis.
Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner watches from the bench during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever on June 11, 2023, in Indianapolis.

At the airport, Stein yelled at Griner:

“Do you still want to boycott America, Brittney?”

“She hates America.”

“What about the merchant of death, Brit?”

To her great honor and the dissatisfaction of many, Griner did the civilized thing and didn’t react as she might have and send him home on a gurney.

While Stein is no threat to a professional basketball player, he is a threat to freedom of speech.

He is the guy who abuses the freedom of the commons — such as an airport or public square or town hall — with his flamethrower mouth.

He is the friend and comforter to those who would crush speech, who want and need examples to prove their myth that speech is violence. Watch Alex Stein at work for very long and you’ll be tempted to put a muzzle on free expression.

Stein and others are abusing free speech

Stein is one of a number of vloggers and provocateurs who are abusing the public square and even private spaces to draw attention to themselves.

Another Texan, who goes by the handle JohnnySomali, recently made news when he harassed passengers while livestreaming on a subway in Japan.

“Why you do this? Pearl Harbor?” he says to one local passenger, Yahoo News reported.

Then he turned to others:

“Hiroshima, Nagasaki! You know what we do to you (expletives)? Hiroshima, Nagasaki, we destroy because you (expletives) don’t know how to behave.

“I swear to God. You do again, we gonna do again. You understand? You understand? Hiroshima? … You (expletives) don’t understand our power.”

Afterwards, one of the locals finally caught up to Johnny livestreaming in Tokyo and slapped him in the face, Yahoo reported.

Conservatives should call off their dog

Another prankster wreaking havoc is a British teen named “Mizzy.” His act is to walk into people’s homes uninvited or to walk on the tops of parked cars.

British police arrested him, but he was soon back on the street and back to his old tricks.

There is danger in all of this. At some point, it is bound to court a kind of frontier justice, as it apparently did in Japan.

As for Alex Stein, conservatives should recognize he is a gift to their opponents and call off their dog.

In Arizona: GOP targets Karrin Taylor Robson for supporting a winner

Do it before he continues eroding free speech.

Do it before he gets hurt.

As for Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury and their coach Vanessa Nygaard, they used this unfortunate moment to raise awareness of the captivity of other Americans overseas.

Foremost on everyone’s mind has been the American prisoner Paul Whelan in Russia, a 53-year-old Michigan native.

And a former United States Marine.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Alex Stein is a threat to free speech, not Brittney Griner