Larry Thomas, the “Soup Nazi” from the famed sitcom Seinfeld, spoke out Tuesday against a gun manufacturer that used his likeness and catch-phrase to protest New York’s ban on military-grade assault weapons for private citizens.
Serbu Firearms used Thomas’s image in a t-shirt and Facebook campaign, using the phrase “No Serbu for you!” to mimic the Soup Nazi’s famous expression, “No soup for you!” from Seinfeld. In protest of the recently enacted Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act–which prohibits private citizens from owning certain assault weapons–Serbu has refused to sell semi-automatic sniper rifles to the New York City Police Department.
“I refused to sell my rifles to the NYPD, and when I talked about it online, it blew up like crazy,” company founder Mark Serbu told The New York Post Tuesday. “Everybody liked the idea of a gun law biting the government on the ass. There are only two manufacturers of semi-automatic 50-caliber rifles in the U.S., and neither will sell to the NYPD. This is like, ‘Screw you, New York.’ People are less safe without our rifles to protect you.”
The “Soup Nazi” campaign is a way for Serbu to capitalize on the buzz against New York’s stricter gun laws. But the actual Soup Nazi actor doesn’t want his face to be involved. Thomas told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell Tuesday, “This is an infringement on my personal rights. Somebody’s using my face to sell something.”
“I have seen my face on t-shirts, random objects on eBay in the past,” said Thomas. “But politically, this is the most offensive thing I have seen involving me as the ‘Soup Nazi.’”
Thomas contacted Serbu, Facebook, and the t-shirt manufacturer to complain protest the use of his likeness. “I own the rights to my image as the Soup Nazi,” Thomas said. “Serbu did not ask my permission, and Facebook won’t take the image down. Not only did they do this without my authorization, but also I am an advocate of gun control.”
“Larry Thomas doesn’t want his face on our shirt,” Serbu said. “He’s an actor, he doesn’t want to be involved with something as hot-button as guns. We are just going to shoot him. Only joking. We don’t want to get into a lawsuit; we’ll change the shirts.”
Serbu removed the images of the “Soup Nazi” from his company’s Facebook page, and then reposted in the same style, with the same catch-phrase, replacing Thomas’s likeness with his own.