Snickers Pulls Ad Featuring Mr. T Over Anti-Gay Claims

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: another gay advertisement controversy in Great Britain. You'll remember the Heinz Company had to pull an ad that had two guys kissing in order to sell mayonnaise. Well, we couldn't quite figure out the connection, but some people got mad about it, and Heinz caved.

Now the Snickers people had to pull this ad.


MR. T., TV PERSONALITY: Speed walking? I'll kill you, fool. You're a disgrace to the man race. It's time to run like a real man. Take that, speed walker. Do it again, sucker. That's going to be trouble with the capital Mr. T. Snickers, get some nuts.


O'REILLY: All right. With us now, Wayne Besen, a gay rights activists who runs the Truth Wins Out organization.

Most people would laugh at that. You know, comedy, Mr. T. And there was no gay reference. It was speed walkers that he was objecting to.

WAYNE BESEN, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, obviously, I think everyone knows that it was a reference to being gay, and it was offensive.

On the face of it, it might not be. But we have a situation right now where people across this country who are gay, especially young people, show up at school, they're beaten up. There's a huge industry out there to try to "straighten people up" who don't act as people think they should.

And this ad says that, No. 1, what you should do if somebody doesn't act as you think they should, is you should intimidate them through violence. And the second thing it does is say that you can correct them, and then everything is going to be OK.

O'REILLY: Now, are you sure the guy in the yellow shorts is a gay guy? Can't he — look, I know a lot of guys — maybe not a lot. I know some guys who are straight but they're — I don't know how to — I'm straining for the adjective. They're fopish, F-O-P-I-S-H [SIC]. OK? You know what I'm talking about? They're straight guys. But they just aren't macho, OK. They're sensitive guys. They're metrosexuals.

It seems to me that they're mocking speed walkers. The guy could be gay, but I don't know automatically if that's what people are going to take out of that.

BESEN: Well, I think they will. And you know what I think...

O'REILLY: Why do you think that way?

BESEN: I think you make a good point, and there are a lot of people that are affected by this type of mindset. And the mindset is if you don't act a certain way, you're going to be intimidated. You're going to be pushed around. And I think that...

O'REILLY: It's so over the top, you know, Mr. T, that's what his shtick is. That's what Mr. T does. He calls everybody a fool. And everybody — he's a macho guy. And this, that, and the other.

I don't know. Just like the Heinz ketchup ad, I don't know what this has to do with candy. I mean, I don't get it, but it's certainly an attention-getter and it's funny. Would you say this is funny? Would you say this is funny at all?

BESEN: Well, I think any time Mr. T is in something there's an element of it being funny. But I'll tell you one thing: I have to be there with the hate crime victims and their parents.

O'REILLY: I got that. I got that. I don't know if we can ban every kind of satire and any kind of burlesque, which is what this is, because people are getting hurt in a very serious way, as you point out, and that's intolerable everywhere.

Now, they pull this ad.

BESEN: But where are they getting this message from?

O'REILLY: They're getting the message on — kids are getting the message from other kids. You know that. If you're fat, if you have a bad complexion, if you're weird in any kind of way, if you're a nerd, if you're a Mormon. No matter what it is, if you're different, you're going to get mocked. That's the way society is. It's always been that way.

BESEN: And this ad celebrates the bullies. This ad celebrates the bullies…

O'REILLY: It's a cartoon character though.

BESEN: ...intimidate people. He is a cartoon character in a way, but I think the message is very clear. That those who are different can be intimidated, and they can be straightened out by somebody who's big and intimidating. We see this all the time in schools across this country.

O'REILLY: Look, I hate bullies. I don't know whether you read any of my stuff, but I hate them. I hate them. And my new book, I deal a whole bunch with that. I'm with you on that. But I think that you're overreacting to this. Now, maybe everybody else overreacted to the mayonnaise kiss, but you didn't have any problem with the mayonnaise kiss, right?

BESEN: I thought that was an excellent ad with the couple kissing.

O'REILLY: People are going to go, you're not objecting because you're just promoting a gay lifestyle, that anything that makes fun of gays or foppish straights is no good.

BESEN: Well, I don't agree. I'll tell you why. Because in the mayonnaise ad with the couple kissing, that was a very positive ad that showed a realistic view of gay life. This insulted people.

O'REILLY: Two guys coming home. What did Calvin Klein, half of their ads have to do with jeans? Most of these ads don't have to do with the product. It's about the image, and that's what we have to be concerned about. What message are they sending?

BESEN: And I think on a conscious and subconscious level, this message sends straighten up, act a certain way, or you can be subject to intimidation.

O'REILLY: If a religious person doesn't want their children to see homosexual activity and a commercial comes on for mayonnaise in the middle of a show that everybody is watching, shouldn't we respect their rights, too?

BESEN: Religious — the religious right loves to show gay couples and gay images. They just like to show negative images of, say, gay pride parades. They have no problem with this.

O'REILLY: I'm talking about the regular people. They don't want to see people kissing in a — guys kissing in a mayonnaise commercial.

BESEN: The regular people, the vast majority of people in America, certainly in Britain where this ad showed, don't see a problem with it. It's like big deal, so 20 years ago.

O'REILLY: All right. OK. Very interesting discussion. We appreciate you coming on.

BESEN: Thanks for having me.

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