Pie Throwers Accuse YouTube Of Censorship

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A—which adjective goes with this group…radical? Extremist? Keystone-Koppish?—12 Monkeys-esque environmental group called The Greenwash Guerillas have accused YouTube of censoring a video of them throwing pies at Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman.

If you haven’t heard of New York Times columnist Friedman via his lengthy journalism career, you may have heard of him because of his book The World Is Flat, which got a lot of attention last year.

The Greenwash Guerillas

The Greenwash Guerillas, angered by Friedman’s "neo-liberal"* stances, particularly in relation to environmental issues, ambushed Friedman at Brown University before he was to give a speech on Earth Day. They threw green whipped-cream pies at him, a move that pretty much ended the speech, and they tossed fliers to the crowd that read, “On behalf of the earth and all true environmentalists – we, the Greenwash Guerillas, declare Thomas Friedman’s ‘Green’ as fake . . . as the cool-whip covering his face.”

Give them a break. They didn’t have piles of Al Gore cash to spend on messaging. They only got him on the arm, anyway. 

"We sought to expose the hypocrisy of allowing Friedman, who is known for his influential support of U.S. wars for oil in the Middle East, to call himself an environmentalist,” said Brown University student and Greenwash Guerrilla Margaree Little, who was apprehended while "Colonel Custard" scampered away from authorities.  "[Friedman] has blood on his hands that no amount of ‘green’ can wash away."

Though Friedman will not file criminal charges, the university is considering disciplinary action against Little. The environmentalist group delineated Friedman’s other sins, which include support for nuclear power, coal power, industrial biofuels, and carbon trading markets.

"These false solutions are smokescreens, intended to generate massive corporate profits while creating global humanitarian and environmental disasters,” said Colonel Custard, in a statement, presumably written in the library with a Fly Fusion pen and a bag of Krispy Kremes, unless there’s something environmentally unfriendly about either.

Just outside where the incident took place, an Amish man committed a run-by fruiting on a Mennonite while shouting "buttons are of the Devil!"

That’s not true, but what is true is that there is an apparent doctrinal disagreement between environmentalists leading this group to adopt funny names and throw pies at authors who aren’t green enough in an attempt to be taken more seriously. Green Party founder Ralph Nader has also been pied in the past.

A video of the pieing appeared briefly on YouTube. In 36 hours, say the Greenwash Guerrillas, the video was viewed nearly 70,000 times. YouTube pulled the video citing terms of use violation. YouTube declined to comment on which terms were violated, but it may have been (loosely) based on these community guidelines:

We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).


There is zero tolerance for predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, invading privacy, or the revealing of other members’ personal information. Anyone caught doing these things may be permanently banned from YouTube.

Given that this is second time Friedman’s been targeted with a pie, someone might construe the act as demeaning or predatory. The Greenwash Guerrillas, though, think YouTube’s deletion has to do with Friedman’s connections.

"Given the many other pieings on YouTube, the removal of the video can only be understood as an act of political censorship," said Little. "One has to wonder whether Friedman, a billionaire with a lot of connections, has more influence than ‘you’ on YouTube."

One wonders how many other issues Little thinks can only be understood one way. But, point taken, Friedman is a billionaire by marriage, according to Wikipedia, and there are lots of other pie videos on YouTube, including CNN’s coverage of the pie incident, which is still posted.

*Google defines a neo-liberal this way. Or place in whichever pigeonhole you like neoliberalism critic and blogger Matt Leonard, who describes himself as one who likes to ride his bike around the San Francisco area, climb rocks, play soccer, wrestle with dogs, hit the drums, strum the guitar, eat yummy vegan food, and find ways to constructively challenge the social and ecological destruction capitalism presents us with. You know, like by pieing dangerous writers. I’m all for a little civil unrest and a lot of struggling against the Man. I couldn’t call Thomas Jefferson a hero if I didn’t. But Jefferson was talking about periodic revolution, not the confectioner’s version of a book burning or the stoning of so-called false prophets.    

Pie Throwers Accuse YouTube Of Censorship
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  • Guest

     A correction for you – the pies didn’t end Friedman’s speech at all. He cleaned himself up, went back on stage, spoke for more than an hour and got a standing ovation. Just FYI.

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