Affirmative Action Debate Gets Out of Control

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 19, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the outrage of the week segment tonight, Michigan voters will say yes or no to affirmative action on the ballot on November 7th. It's on the ballot, but those in support of affirmative action are getting a little rowdy. The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary is leading the way and has disrupted meetings and confronted people with whom they disagree. This, of course, is shades of the Columbia University minutemen action last week. Now the question is why is this stuff happening in a democracy?

Joining us now from Lansing is Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which opposes affirmative action. Why don't you just define, I asked the reverend to define what she thought about torture, she didn't want to do it. I hope you'll define your position on affirmative action, so everybody knows where you are coming from.

JENNIFER GRATZ, EXEC DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN CIVIL RIGHTS INITIATIVE: Absolutely. Thanks Bill for having me. I don't think that affirmative action should include race preferences. I think that our government should treat people equally, judge people on their merit and their character, not their skin color or sex.

O'REILLY: All right, but if it was economically based, affirmative action, would you be for it?

GRATZ: I would be for that.

O'REILLY: OK, you just don't want a color scheme in college admissions and job hiring?

GRATZ: Correct.

O'REILLY: OK, now it's on the ballot. People are going to vote for it in Michigan, because the University of Michigan has all this controversy there and your group is opposed. Other groups are for. So, what's the problem? Why do we have all this chaos in the meetings? What is the problem?

GRATZ: Well, the group that you are seeing, By Any Means Necessary, quite frankly, they don't believe in free speech. They don't believe in democracy and they don't believe in equal treatment under the law. So, they will use any means necessary to even stop the people from voting on this issue, because they're scared. It's scare tactics and, quite frankly, they are desperate right now.

O'REILLY: What do the polls say?

GRATZ: The polls right now -- it's three weeks out and the polls are all over the place. And I think that it's quite -- it tells us just how scared -- how many dooms day scenarios are out there. Our opposition, they have recently released an ad comparing passing proposal two to the tragedies of 9/11 and Katrina. It's just really outrageous, lots of doom's day scenarios out there right now.

O'REILLY: All right, so it could go either way. It's a close initiative. Now, has anything happened to you? Have these guys confronted you?

GRATZ: The group By Any Means Necessary, they follow me. I often have security with me when I'm speaking at public events. They have taunted, they have intimidated. It's really meant to try to stop the process, to stop people from voting and to stop people from talking about this issue.

O'REILLY: Now, have you been threatened?

GRATZ: I have been threatened, unfortunately.

O'REILLY: Tell us about that.

GRATZ: Well, the group, By Any Means Necessary, says that they will use any means necessary to keep these policies in place and so they threaten by their name, by their tactics.

O'REILLY: No, no, no, but come on Jennifer, let's be fair. Have you been outright threatened? I mean I get death threats all the time. I know what threats are. Have you been threatened?

GRATZ: There's a gentleman in that group, which gentleman is the wrong word to use, he carries a knife with him and he has made sure that I have known that he has that knife on him.

O'REILLY: Did he say he had a knife to you?

GRATZ: He did tell me he had a knife. It was after I had asked him, I asked him if he had that knife on him while he was talking with people that signs the petition and he said well not this one.

O'REILLY: OK, now this group wants to come on the FACTOR. I'm considering it. I don't want to put loons on, but we'll pre-interview the guy. What's his name, Luke Massey. Do you know this Luke Massey guy?

GRATZ: Luke Massey, he has been involved.

O'REILLY: He's not the guy with the knife, is he?

GRATZ: He is.

O'REILLY: Luke Massey is the guy with the knife? We better put him on the bird then. I don't want him in the studio then. That's interesting. Maybe we will have Mr. Massey on. See look, I don't care how people vote in Michigan. They're smart enough to vote on this initiative what they want, but I don't like these tactics and I don't want you to be in any danger. That's wrong and we'll fight against that. I want you to be very careful. Do you have enough security?

GRATZ: I'm careful and I'm confident that I'll be safe and that big business, big government, big labor won't prevail by using any means necessary. I think the people are smart enough to know -- to vote yes on this proposal to end these policies.

O'REILLY: All right. OK, we'll give Mr. Massey a shot next week if he wants to come on. And Jennifer, stay safe. We appreciate you coming on.

GRATZ: Thank you very much.

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