Hate fuck radio gabber Michael Savage — who in 2003 was axed by MSNBC for labeling a caller to his show “a sodomite…who should get AIDS and die” and in ’06 encouraged his acolytes to burn Mexican flags, has chosen a strangely litigious route to stifling his latest critics, writes the New York Times’ Jacques Steinberg.

Mr. Savage, whose program reaches an estimated eight million listeners a week on nearly 400 stations, suggested over the summer that a group of college students on a hunger strike in support of easing immigration restrictions should œfast until they starve to death. In October the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, the city from which Mr. Savage often broadcasts, took the unusual step of passing a resolution condemning him for the remarks.

Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. Savage (above) uncorked a cascade of invective about Islam. Among his on-air comments: the Koran is œa book of hate; some Muslims, at least, œneed deportation; and adherents of Islam would do well to œtake your religion and shove it up your behind because œI™m sick of you.

In response the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose stated mission includes correcting mischaracterizations of Islam, tore a page from the playbook of Mr. Imus™s critics. It made Mr. Savage™s comments widely available on the Internet and called on advertisers to boycott his program, which is behind only Rush Limbaugh™s and Sean Hannity™s in number of listeners, according to Talkers magazine, an industry publication.

At least two of his major sponsors ” Citrix, which sells remote access to computers, and Trusted ID, which provides protection against identity theft ” have pulled their spots. Thus far, Mr. Savage said in an interview last week, the boycott had cost his program more than a million dollars in advertising revenue committed for next year.

On Dec. 3 Mr. Savage fired back at his critics in a way Mr. Imus never did: He filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against the council, not only for taking his comments out of context ” he says they were made within a broader discussion of the president of Iran ” but for then making audio of them available on its Web site, cair.com.

With his suit, Mr. Savage has put himself in an odd position for someone who makes his living talking and is a fierce advocate for free speech: He is complaining about others quoting him.

But in the interview Mr. Savage contended that the council had violated the copyright protections on his broadcast by using his words, in effect, to raise money. He cited the bright orange button labeled œDonate that appears on the council Web site just to the right of the œAction Alert it put out against him.

œIf they are trying to hang me by my own petard, they have no right to use my petard, Mr. Savage said after Monday™s show. œIt™s my petard, not theirs.

He told his listeners last Monday that he had attended a boxing match in Las Vegas the previous weekend, which he characterized as between Floyd Mayweather, œthe black guy, and Ricky Hatton, œthe white guy.

œI rooted for the underdog, who was the little guy, Hatton, Mr. Savage said. œI didn™t root for him because he was white.