Mark Meechan, who is also known as Count Dankula online, got himself into a lot of trouble when he filmed his girlfriend’s pug raising its paw. The little animal—named Buddha—was raising its paw in response to Meechan saying things like “Sieg Heil” and “gas the jews”.
Meechan, 30, made the extremely questionable decision to post the footage of the pug on his YouTube channel. As a result, police were notified. Meechan was arrested—he was suspected of committing a hate crime.
So apparently Daily Mails YouTube channel got terminated for uploading my Nazi pug video.
I don’t know if that was specifically why but I don’t see why else it would have happened.
— Count Dankula🏴 (@CountDankulaTV) March 17, 2018
The video in question was posted back in 2016, and it was viewed on YouTube more than 3,000,000 times.
The dog could also be seen watching speeches by Adolf Hitler.
Meechan, from Scotland, ended up on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court. According to the BBC, the man denied doing anything wrong, stating that he made the pug video in order to irritate his girlfriend.
According to him, the girlfriend would always talk about how adorable and cute her little dog is. He made the decision to turn the pug into the least cute thing in his mind—a Nazi.
However, he ended up being found guilty of a charge due to the video, which is referred to as “grossly” offensive” because it is “anti-Semitic” and “racist in nature”. It was alleged that the video was aggravated by “religious prejudice”.
He was found guilty on March 20th.
A video from outside of the court was posted.
When described in court, Meechan was referred to as both intelligent and articulate.
The judge said that Meechan knew the material was offensive and why it would be considered offensive. Despite knowing that—according to the judge—Meechan made the decision to make a video containing anti-Semitic content.
Believe it or not, comedian Ricky Gervais actually weighed in on the matter; the star said on Twitter that you do not believe in free speech if you do not believe in a person’s right to say things that might be considered, as he put it, “grossly offensive”.
A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed “grossly offensive”. If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find “grossly offensive”, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.Advertisement
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 20, 2018
The pug video has been criticized by Jewish leaders, but has also been defended by other proponents of free speech. Meechan’s prosecution has even been compared to the sort of censorship that existed in 1984, the George Orwell novel.
A sheriff involved in the case has said that the right to freedom of expression does come with responsibility; the right of freedom to expression, he said, was considered in Meechan’s case.
He told the court that he didn’t really believe Meechan’s decision to leave the video on YouTube for as long as he did was simply about irritating his girlfriend; he said Meechan was trying to get attention for other videos he made.
Meechan will likely be sentenced on the 23rd of April.
Technically, Meechan was charged with violating a specific act—The Communications Act of 2003.
As mentioned, Ricky Gervais brought up free speech. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights actually preserves the right to free speech, and most nations’ laws grant the right formal recognition.
However, in practice, just how much the right is upheld varies from country to country. Government censorship is often enforced regardless, especially in those countries that have authoritarian governments.
For example, in Africa, most constitutions technically provide legal protection regarding freedom of speech. However, the rights tend to be exercised inconsistently—and freedom of speech is often repressed in places like Sudan, Libya, and Eritrea. In Sudan, blasphemy against religion is against the law.
Blasphemy is also against the law in Indonesia because of blasphemy laws, and blasphemy against Islam is outlawed in Iran as well as Pakistan. Blasphemy against Islam is also forbidden in Saudi Arabia; the penalty is death.
In China, certain social networking sites—such as Facebook and Twitter—are subject to censorship.
In Ecuador, insults or accusations made without any factual basis can be punished with months or even years in prison. In 2013, an assemblyman was sentenced to one year in prison as a result of criminal libel.
In the United States, the right to free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution’s First Amendment. However, there are several common law exceptions. They include defamation, fraud, and obscenity. In certain public spaces, freedom of speech is even limited to free speech zones.