AIRDRIE, SCOTLAND — Scottish YouTuber Mark Meechan, aka Count Dankula, has been fined 800 pounds (US$1,100) for making video with a pug he says was a joke to annoy his girlfriend.
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This all goes back to April 2016 when Meechan decided to prank his girlfriend Sue. The Scots comic trained his girlfriend’s pug Buddha to nazi salute to “Sieg Heil” and to react to the phrase “Do you want to gas the Jews?”.
Meechan published footage of the canine to YouTube where it went viral. Some found it funny, some didn’t. Reportedly, he says the phrase “gas the Jews” 23 times, and that’s the part people found offensive and the law took issue with.
According to the BBC, Meechan said the “joke” was “the juxtaposition of having an adorable animal reacting to something vulgar”.
Evidently, Scottish authorities didn’t find it funny. So much so, they charged Meechan with a hate crime. After a two-year court case, on Monday the judge found Dankula guilty of making a grossly offensive video that “contained menacing, anti-semitic and racist material.” According to newspaper the Scotsman, the prosecution pointed out that the context of the video wasn’t to be decided by Meechan, but by the court.
Meechan’s joke was found to be grossly offensive under the UK Communications Act 2003, Section 127. Specifically, the UK-wide law says someone is guilty of an offence that “sends 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; or causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
What’s deemed grossly offensive is left widely open to interpretation. The judge, in this case, fined Meechan around $1100.
Meechan received support from all fields, including from comedian Ricky Gervais, satirist Jonathan Pie, YouTuber Philip Defranco as well as writer and activist Maajid Nawaaz, Infowars’s Alex Jones and also ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
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