The actor who gained fame playing the "Soup Nazi" on the sitcom Seinfeld ordered an automatic-weapons manufacturer to stop using his image on a campaign criticizing New York state's new gun safety laws.
The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Larry Thomas contacted Serbu Firearms, a Florida-based company, after it had produced T-shirts with his likeness and the phrase "No Serbu for you," a spoof of Thomas' character's "no soup for you" catchphrase.
"I have seen my face on t-shirts, random objects on eBay in the past," said Serbu, who described himself as a gun control advocate. "But politically, this is the most offensive thing I have seen involving me as the 'Soup Nazi.'"
The campaign, Serbu told the newspaper, was motivated by New York's ban on military-grade assault weapon ownership for private citizens, which it enacted on Jan. 15. In protest, he has refused to sell the company's semi-automatic sniper rifle to the New York City Police Department.
"There are only two manufacturers of semi-automatic 50-caliber rifles in the U.S', and neither will sell to the NYPD," he said. "This is like, 'Screw you, New York.' People are less safe without our rifles to protect you."
Serbu also acknowledged Thomas' request, saying the actor did not want to be associated with a "hot-button" issue because of his profession.
"We are just going to shoot him. Only joking," he said. "We don't want to get into a lawsuit; we'll change the shirts."
On Tuesday, Serbu posted a link to the Post story next to the shooting "joke," saying, "Don't believe everything you read, folks!"
The company also pulled the shirts from its Facebook page, replacing them with new ones substituting a cartoon of founder Mark Serbu's head for Thomas'.
"Well? How about this one?" Serbu wrote alongside a picture of the new shirts. "I'm not as photogenic as the soup nazi but at least we won't get sued over it!"
[Image by Matt Boulton via Flickr Creative Commons]
[h/t Talking Points Memo]