On Monday, YouTube personality Mark Meechan was fined £800 by a U.K. court for being “grossly offensive.” Meechan, a comedian, blogs under the name Count Dankula. He taught his girlfriend’s dog to be a Nazi.
The dog responded to “gas the Jews” and performed a Nazi salute. It was a joke, admittedly a perverse joke.
Meechan was found guilty under the Communications Act over the video, which he said he did as a joke on his girlfriend. He was found guilty of committing a “hate crime” and had faced as much as six months in jail under the U.K. law
Meechan was arrested in April 2016 over the video, which showed him teaching his girlfriend’s dog to give a Nazi “Sieg Heil salute,” and showed the pug named Buddha responding excitedly to the phrase “gas the Jews.”
The video was only meant for seven of his friends and was intended to “upset his girlfriend”, he said.
“But he says the video was shared, by someone on the social media platform, Reddit, which led to the surge in its popularity,” said The Daily Mail. The video was viewed some 3 million times.
Before he was found guilty, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll told the court, “The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. He would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.” He found Meechan guilty of sending by “means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.”
HE WILL APPEAL
“Dozens of supporters gathered outside court for the sentencing, including the English Defense League founder Tommy Robinson, while fundraising campaigns have started to cover the fine,” The Independent reported.
This is a slippery slope. Should people be sent to prison for being “offensive”? The Brits don’t have a First Amendment. If the left in the U.S. has their way, there won’t be one in the U.S. either. Meechan will appeal:
Speaking outside court, Meechan described the video as a joke centered around the “juxtaposition of having an adorable animal react to something vulgar”.
Meechan said he would appeal against his conviction over concerns it sets a legal precedent, which the judge denied.
“A really dangerous precedent has been set for people to say things, their context to be completely ignored and then they can be convicted for it,” he said outside the court.
“You don’t get to decide the context of what you said, other people don’t get to, the court gets to – that’s dangerous.”
His lawyer said it will impact comedians.