Count Dankula, a popular youtube personality in Scotland, has been charged with a hate crime after he posted a video of his pug performing the Nazi salute. In the video, posted in April 2016 to his Facebook page, Mark Meechan can be seen training the dog to respond to the phrase “gas the Jews” over and over again.
Slowly the dog learns to become more alert and responsive every time Mark says the phrase. Afterwards Mark shows the dog a video of the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, including the Nazi rally, and the dog has learned to raise its paw every time Hitler shouts the phrase, “Sieg Heil!”.
This is getting ridiculous, man in UK found guilty for making a joke online, facing jail time. Non-partisan issue, sets a dangerous precedent, sad day for the state of free speech. https://t.co/lwmijM5oM9— JonTron (@JonTronShow) 20 March 2018
Mark Meechan’s defence was that the video was clearly not a hate crime, but a prank played on his girlfriend. He thought it would be funny to take her dog, who she absolutely adored and was a very cute dog and training it to do “the least cute thing I could think of.” He even praised the dog every time it gave the salute by saying, “Who’s a good wee Nazi!”
At the end of the video Meechan reiterated that he did not do it as an act of malice, but that it was just a joke.
“I actually hate racism in any way, shape, or form,” he said in the apology video. “It was done as a joke, as a dank meme, and purely just to annoy my girlfriend.”
Nazi Germany once pursued a Finnish man and his dog for mocking the Nazi salute. Today, Scotland is doing the same to Count Dankula. https://t.co/bwC01OIFco— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) 20 March 2018
Count Dankula has now been charged with violating the UK’s Communication Act of 2003, and his conduct has been ruled as grossly offensive. During the trial Ephraim Borowski, head director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, spoke about how his family survived the holocaust and how he was shocked that anyone would try and turn the experience into a joke.
In the end Sheriff Derek O’Carroll stated that because Count Dankula left the video up after he was made aware that it had offended people proved it was not simply about pestering his girlfriend. Rather he had used the attention to try and direct traffic towards his page and his other videos.
“This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration,” O’Carroll said. “But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.”