YouTuber fined for video of dog giving Nazi salutes
A man has been fined £800 after he posted footage on YouTube of a pet dog giving Nazi salutes.
Mark Meechan filmed his girlfriend's pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as "gas the Jews" and "Sieg Heil" by raising its paw.
He was arrested after police were alerted to the clip, which has been viewed more than three million times.
Following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in Lanarkshire in March, he was found guilty of posting material that was "grossly offensive, anti-Semitic and racist". He had pleaded not guilty.
Meechan, who regularly posts videos on YouTube under the name Count Dankula, was convicted of committing a crime under the Communications Act which was aggravated by religious prejudice.
Meechan – described by his defence agent Ross Brown as a "tolerant and liberal" man – said he had posted the footage as a joke to annoy his partner, and claimed the case raised issues of freedom of speech.
The "entire point of the joke" was the "juxtaposition of having an adorable animal react to something vulgar", he said.
Speaking outside court, he claimed the case set a "really dangerous precedent for people to say things, their
context to be completely ignored and then they can be convicted for it".
But Sheriff Derek O'Carroll said that while the right to freedom of speech was important, the law "necessarily places some limits on that right" in "all modern democratic countries".
Sentencing Meechan, Sheriff O'Carroll also revealed the 30-year-old's girlfriend did not subscribe to the video channel he had posted the footage on.
He added: "I found it proved that the video you posted, using a public communications network, was grossly offensive and contained menacing, anti-Semitic and racist material.
"You deliberately chose the Holocaust as the theme of the video.
"You purposely used the command 'gas the Jews' as the centrepiece of what you called the entire joke, surrounding the 'gas the Jews' centrepiece with Nazi imagery and the Seig Heil command so there could be no doubt what historical events you were referring to."
Mac Convery outside Airdrie Sheriff Court. Sentencing due of Mark Meechan, convicted after training his girlfriends pug to do Nazi salute pic.twitter.com/izSRQqBocZ
— James Matthews (@jamesmatthewsky) April 23, 2018
Dozens of supporters, including former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, were outside the building on Monday.
Ross Brown said his client was concerned about the impact his case could have on comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Ricky Gervais.
"His difficulty, it seems, was that he was someone who enjoyed shock humour, both giving and receiving it, and went about his life under the impression that he lived in a jurisdiction which permitted its citizens the right to freely express themselves," Mr Brown added.
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After the guilty verdict last month, Gervais wrote on Twitter: "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."