Count Dankula, who taught his dog to act like a Nazi, convicted of a hate crime in Scotland

You’re probably heard the story, or seen the video, of a Scottish man, Markus Meechan (aka “Count Dankula”) who taught his dog to raise his paw when Meechan said “Sieg Heil”, and to react when he said “Do you want to gas the Jews”? The video is below, though YouTube makes you click through the trigger warning.

There’s no doubt that, even though Meechan claims this was a joke, it was a very bad joke, not at all funny, and quite offensive. Hell, I find it offensive, and I consider myself a secular Jew. But in the U.K. it’s also a hate crime, and prosecuting Meechan for that, and for breaching the “electronic communications act” by putting the video on YouTube, has cost the UK thousands of dollars.

Today Meechan was convicted, and will be sentenced next month. As Newsweek reports:

A man is facing jail after he was convicted of a hate crime for uploading a video of him teaching his girlfriend’s dog to give a Nazi Sieg Hail salute and respond excitedly to the phrase “gas the Jews.”

Markus Meechan, 30, from North Lanarkshire, Scotland, went viral in 2016 after he posted a video on YouTube entitled “M8 yer dugs a Nazi,”—Scottish argot for “mate, your dog is a Nazi.”

In the video, which went on to be viewed more than 3 million times, Meechan explains he wanted to turn his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, into the “least cute thing I could think of” and so wanted to turn it into a Nazi.

. . . The clip then shows Buddha raising his paw whenever Meechan calls out “Sieg Heil” and react to the question “you want to gas the Jews?” The video also sees Meechan playing speeches by Adolf Hitler to the dog.

Following outcry over the video, Meechan was arrested and charged with suspicion of a hate crime and an alleged breach of the electronic communications act.

Meechan denied the allegations and insisted he was not anti-Semitic, saying that teaching the dog to act like a Nazi was nothing more than a joke intended to upset his girlfriend.

“I don’t actually hate Jewish people and the video was just an insight into the darker side of my humour, a prank to annoy my girlfriend and that I did not intend for people, other than people who knew my comedy, to see the video,” he said, reports the Jewish Chronicle.

Following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff’s Court in Scotland, the 30-year-old has now been convicted of a hate crime and could face jail when he is sentenced at the same court on April 23.

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.”

Here’s the video:

And Meechan’s tweet after his guilty plea.

The U.K. is outpacing the U.S. in its attempts to abrogate freedom of speech, though Britain has no such requirement in its constitution. And it’s possible that Meechan really wasn’t an anti-Semitic bigot, but was just making an awful-taste joke. He surely knew it would offend Jews, as it offends me. But people don’t have a right to not be offended. 

What is accomplished by convicting this guy and sending him to jail? Will it deter others from making ‘hate videos’? Perhaps, but the concept of “hate speech” is so slippery that such deterrence is unwise. Meechan, after all, was not calling for the Jews to be gassed, expecting to incite Jewish deaths. Remember that many saw, and still see, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad as “hate speech”, as they see the views of Steve Bannon, Christina Hoff Sommers, or Amy Wax as “hate speech”.

Meechan would not be tried in the U.S., much less convicted, for here has the right to say what he wants, vile as it is. Recall, as well, that to defend freedom of speech, the American Civil Liberties Union went to court to allow the American Nazi Party to march through Skokie, Illinois—a Jewish suburb. Of course everyone knew this would be offensive and would piss people off! But the principle must be defended, because, if you decide “hate speech” is to be criminalized, who gets to decide what hate speech is? Is the U.S. palpably worse off than the U.K. because it allows “hate speech”? I don’t think so.

Remember this number from the movie “The Producers”? HATE CRIME! It surely would not be allowed in the UK. Notice the Hitler salutes, the goose-stepping, and even the sound of bullets.

I have the same reaction as Ricky Gervais, who’s a Brit (h/t to Grania for the tweets):

And one more, or rather three:

And another, this time with humor, from Constitutional lawyer Ken White, who writes at “Popehat”:

Well, maybe some people feel that Meechan should have been tried for teaching “Sieg heils” to his dog. Vote below, and weigh in in the comments. All I see from this side of the pond is that the UK is becoming a mire of “political correctness”, and by that I mean a place where people have to tiptoe around, or hush themselves, to avoid offending anyone.

93 Comments

  1. glen1davidson
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s certainly annoying to hear “gas the Jews” over and over again.

    Yet bad as it may be, and as unfathomable as his desire to train the dog to seem Nazi is, he really seems to be playing a joke on the dog, if one in rather poor taste. Especially at the end when the pug’s face is replaced by Hitler’s several times.

    Call him unfunny and leave it at that.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Will it deter others from making ‘hate videos’?

    Not in the least, in fact, it may have a paradoxic effect.

  3. Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    The damage Meechan does to his own reputation with this unfunny video is punishment enough. He even fails to train the dog. Besides, it is not going to piss off his girlfriend in the way he thinks. She’s going to focus on him saying “gas the Jews”, not the dog’s behavior. Unless, of course, she often says “gas the Jews” in her everyday speech which doesn’t seem likely.

  4. craigp
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    The youtube video is not available to me here in the UK (I suppose due to the court case), although I remember seeing it a while back.

    Count Dankula is clearly not inciting violence. I don’t even think it’s particularly offensive since it’s quite obviously meant to be humorous. I can see how it would not seem humorous to some people but that’s not the point.

    I’m with Ricky Gervais on this. If we don’t believe in free speech for people we disagree with then we don’t believe in free speech.

  5. CJColucci
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    When I was a kid, I wanted to produce a real-life Springtime for Hitler. Mel Brooks might have objected, though.

  6. Griff
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    No, he’s not an anti-semite. It was just a poor joke in arguably bad-taste.

    We need a constitution in the UK.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      We have one. It’s just not all written in one place.

      And it doesn’t include a right to free expression – unfortunately.

      • Craw
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Not so clear. Petition of Right, Bill of Rights (there is a brit law called this).
        1688 and All That.

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          The Bill of Rights only protects free speech within parliament.

          • Posted March 23, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            Conclusion: people should bring their dog to parliament if they insist to train him to do stupid things.

      • Griff
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        About time it did!

  7. Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Bad taste is not a crime. If it were, there would be little to watch on TV.

  8. Helen Pluckrose
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    It is very worrying. We have had a man arrested for videoing himself burning a poppy and posting it on Facebook, another for saying British soldiers should die and go to hell. They were both convicted. A woman is waiting to see if she will be charged for tweeting non-acceptance of trans identity and opposing transitioning children. Another man was interviewed under caution for saying on Twitter that he’d asked a Muslim woman to account for Islamic terrorism and a man was detained at the airport for implying the burqa was a security risk and threatened with arrest if he didn’t apologise for being offensive.

    It seems particularly disappointing and also stupid when atheist critics of religion get behind this stuff. It happened so often, I made this little flashcard thing.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–you are a model of polite restraint and level-headedness, Helen

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Someone got 12 weeks in jail for posting this joke on their facebook page:

      “What’s the difference between Mark Bridger and Santa Claus?”

      Yes, really, they did! That joke is so offensive it is criminal (links here).

    • Darrin Carter
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Well said! +1

    • BJ
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Your posts are always a pleasure to read. Thank you.

  9. eric
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    But people don’t have a right to not be offended.

    I agree. Though because it was someone else’s dog that he trained, my guess is that if this were to happen in the US, the dog’s owner (hopefully ex-girfriend after this) would have a legitimate civil suit against him for emotional distress etc.

    In the US, you can draw nazi symbols on your stuff. But you can’t draw nazi symbols on someone else’s stuff without their permission. I imagine training someone else’s pet to say or do things the owner finds offensive would create a similar, legitimate ownership/property issue.

    • Taz
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Your opinion of how his girlfriend feels about it is way off base:

      Her reaction to the verdict on Twitter

      • Taz
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        For those who don’t want to click:

        I have so much to say about what has happened today that it all comes flooding too fast for my brain and fingers to process. Today we lost a 2 year battle that should never have been a battle in the first place. We have been used as an example and I’m furious.

      • eric
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the update. If she has no problem with it, then this should not be a legal issue at all.

        Though I maintain that if she *did* have a problem with it, she’d have a legitimate legal gripe, even in the US. The first amendment doesn’t, AFAIK, cover training someone else’s dog in a way they don’t approve of.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Had it been done without her consent or acquiescence, she might have had some type of personal tort action (though I doubt it), but that would have had no impact on the constitutional question whether the government could prosecute him.

  10. Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Just a question to put out there: Is the Mel Brooks movie The Producers banned in the UK?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      No, Brooks’ The Producers is regularly broadcast in the UK & the inferior** 2005 remake too – the last time, for the remake, being Sunday 18th Feb 2018 on BBC Two TV

      ** unwatchable because I sit wishing it was the darker Brooks’ version in front of my eyes

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    England is more and more turning into the country in Children of Men.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      While that may well be true, this guy was tried in a Scottish court.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        Oh, then let me rephrase: The UK is more and more turning into the country in Children of Men.

  12. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Youtube will have a lot of very bad things on it and generally it is up to the view as it should be. In fact, there is a lot of very disgusting things on the internet but again, it is up to the viewer. I would be just as concerned about the millions who clicked on it and sat there watching this junk. You have the freedom here to be ignorant. Stopping people from seeing this stuff is not going to make them any smarter.

    My more recent concern with platforms such as facebook is that millions of people are being manipulated and even convinced who they will vote for. The spit is about to hit the fan on this subject in the U.S. The damage may exceed the benefit.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, it sounds offensive. (Youtube tells me it’s been removed, so I haven’t seen it for myself.) But it’s in such atrocious taste, it’s almost funny, in a stop, stare, point, shake-your-head and laugh-at-the-dumb-bastard kinda way. And however offensive it may be, it’d be entitled to First Amendment protection here in the US.

    • eric
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      however offensive it may be, it’d be entitled to First Amendment protection here in the US.

      It would if it were your own dog. Someone else’s dog? I’m not so sure. That seems to me more similar to claiming you have a first amendment right to write nazi slogans on someone else’s stuff. You don’t, obviously; it’s their property. Well, this dog was someone else’s property.

      • Taz
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        And since she’s 100% behind him, that fact is irrelevant.

  14. Christopher
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    How long before they start arresting people for watching reruns of Hogan’s Heroes, Dad’s Army, or ‘Allo ‘Allo!?

  15. Liz
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t want to watch it but I did. It’s disgusting. This man is saying it’s a “joke” for his girlfriend but he is going out of his way to train this dog. His tone is sickening. The dog in front of the video is sickening. “I’m not a racist, by the way…” That’s bullsh*t. It’s arguably animal cruelty. What if this was a seeing eye dog and it led a blind person into a concentration camp? It’s not funny. Not a joke. If this was not a video, and he was doing this in public, those would be fighting words. This is nothing like Springtime for Hitler. I don’t even want to say he might be profoundly ignorant.

    • eric
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      It’s arguably animal cruelty.

      In what way? The d*g doesn’t understand the human connotations of the trick. To him the seig heil thing is no different than a “shake hands” trick, and he doesn’t understand the ‘gas the jews comment’ either.

      IMO the girlfriend has a legitimate complaint against the guy for training her dog in a way she didn’t approve of. But I’d say the dog itself is perfectly psychologically fine. And I cite the estimable Dr. G. Larson’s expert treatise on d*g psychology as my source. 🙂

      • Liz
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        It’s too close to this: https://www.expertsecuritytips.com/how-to-train-your-dog-to-attack-on-command/

        “How to Train Your Dog to Attack on Command”

      • Liz
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I am not sure, though, if he was intentionally training a dog in a more serious/threatening way, if that might be a legal concern. After reading more about “fighting words” and the first amendment, it would be protected in the U.S. (I believe so). It doesn’t matter if it was a joke or not. I was livid watching that.

    • Taz
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      It’s arguably animal cruelty. What if this was a seeing eye dog and it led a blind person into a concentration camp?

      Are you joking? If not, that’s absurd.

      • Craw
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Teaching a dog to wag its tail when you say Trump is cruelty too. The psychic harm to the dog’s soul.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      This is nothing like Springtime for Hitler.

      Only because it fails to be funny.

      I haven’t seen the video, but if somebody had described it to me as “dog giving the Nazi salute” without any of the other context, I would have assumed it was taking the piss out of Nazis.

      What if this was a seeing eye dog and it led a blind person into a concentration camp?

      Firstly, it clearly isn’t what we call a guide dog for the blind. Secondly, I’d love to hear your explanation of how it could lead a blind person into a concentration camp.

  16. Larry Metcalfe
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    “has cost the UK thousands of dollars”

    Er, what are these dollars of which you speak?

    But, yes, I found the video mildly amusing for a few seconds, after that it got less funny the longer it went on, but fact that this case has been brought at all is disgraceful.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Errr. . .I meant pounds. I was practicing unwarranted cultural appropriation.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        You weren’t appropriating our pounds you were imposing your satanic dollars! I am sure that is just as bad though 🙂

  17. jay
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    In the land of Charlie Hebdo, criticism of Islam is a real crime, with fines and potential jail time. Probably the first time in a modern ‘liberal democracy’ that criticizing a religion is criminal (however Judaism is ok to criticize, apparently)

    Your blog may well get blocked,

    https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12051/france-islam-free-speech

  18. rudolphpaul
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    The U.K. wastes resources on this but then launders billions for Putin’s minions?
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/british-banks-handled-vast-sums-of-laundered-russian-money

  19. tubby
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    If being unfunny, offensive, and tasteless on the Internet is a crime then the UK will have more people in jail than the US.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      And there would be no Walmarts.

      • Craw
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        This would earn you a visit from the Joke Police!

    • Taz
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Unless it’s also a crime in the US. I have great confidence in our ability to match any other country when it comes to being unfunny, offensive, and tasteless.

      • tubby
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        We are world leaders at being boorish!

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          I love many things about my neighbours to the south and what they have produced, but alas, the above is probably true. (Cf. Trump.)

  20. TJR
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Can’t be long before Jerry Sadowitz gets thrown in jail, then.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Jerry Sadowitz already queered his pitch with the authorities by pointing out that Jimmy Savile was a paedophilic rapist long before anyone else (offically) noticed…

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    There was a movie in 1982 called “White Dog” (fiction – based on a 1970 novel) about a man who had trained a dog to actually physically attack all people of African descent. (The drama centers around attempts to retrain him under a new owner.) Now that rises close to the level of a hate crime, not this.

    Laws against hate speech aren’t really that different from “blasphemy” laws IMO.

    Of course, sometimes it makes a different who is making the joke. From the point of view of etiquette (as opposed to legality) it goes over better when Jewish jokes are told by Jews, etc.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      The bewildered and benign expression on the dog’s face comes close to making the video mildly amusing, but of course I remember the genuine ferocity of the dog in the film “White Dog”.

    • mfdempsey1946
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      “White Dog”, directed by the frequently gonzo but powerfully talented Samuel Fuller, got dumped by Paramount Studios back in the day after the NAACP and others accused it of racism. It had barely any theatrical release at all because of these misguided accusations.

      I think that any fair-minded viewer will have no trouble seeing that “White Dog” is unstintingly anti-racist.

      Fortunately, the Criterion Collection rescued it from oblivion some time ago. I myself have shown it to classes of TESOL students more than once.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Originally, the studio was all set to have Roman Polanski to direct it before he had to flee to Europe wanted in America on statutory rape charge.

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      That would be an actual crime of violence, It would have put you in prison b before there were hate crimes.

  22. Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Opponents of free speech should lead by example.

  23. harrync
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    “I find the actions of the UK police and prosecutors offensive, tasteless, and a hate crime against me and all other believers in free speech; they must prosecute themselves.” Yes, that sentence is absolutely stupid; just like the actions of the UK police and prosecutors.

  24. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a UK-viewable mirror of M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi:

  25. rom
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the gentleman’s IQ was?

    It is interesting viewing all this through the lens of no free will.

    It could not have been otherwise.

    • Thanny
      Posted March 22, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      He’s fairly intelligent, and not the least bit prejudicial against Jews.

      • Posted March 23, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        He is apparently not intelligent. If he were intelligent and prejudicial against Jews, he’d become a BDS activist and everyone would slap him on the back.

  26. Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Police have to keep themselves occupied somehow. It’s not like Britain has problems with rape gangs or anything.

  27. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    So here we go again.

    What is accomplished by convicting this guy and sending him to jail? Will it deter others from making ‘hate videos’? Perhaps,

    We lack data either way. Is it useful or harmful? Nobody knows.

    but the concept of “hate speech” is so slippery that such deterrence is unwise. Meechan, after all, was not calling for the Jews to be gassed, expecting to incite Jewish deaths. Remember that many saw, and still see, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad as “hate speech”, as they see the views of Steve Bannon, Christina Hoff Sommers, or Amy Wax as “hate speech”.

    How is a law and its concept “slippery”? They set precedent, after all.

    And no, the opinion of the people do not (or at least should not) count, and thus do not constitute evidence of slipperiness/problems.

    • BJ
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      You didn’t answer my questions regarding your stances on a similar post two days ago, so I’m going to pose them again. First, this was the initial post to which I asked you to refer before my post with the questions, so I will quote this first, and then follow it up with a separate post in which will be the questions I think you need to answer, if you wish to defend your positions on these issues. Here is the information post:

      “The UK has denied others entry to the country based on their speech, like “pick-up artist” Julien Blanc: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30119100

      In The Netherlands, an actual political party leader was convicted of “inciting discrimination” and “insulting a group” for saying “Do you want more or less Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands” and his crowd responding “less.” Yes, that was all that happened. That’s all it takes: https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/09/europe/geert-wilders-hate-speech-trial-verdict/index.html

      Meanwhile, there has been a continuing trial for at least over a year now of a man who was arrested and prosecuted for making a video of his dog doing a Nazi salute when the man would make antisemitic remarks: http://metro.co.uk/2018/01/05/man-taught-dog-nazi-salutes-convicted-hate-crime-7207577/

      The fact that the above trial has continued this long suggests that such arrests are not eventually seen by the courts/government there as ridiculous, but necessary prosecutions for which the law was specifically made.

      Hate speech arrests have soared in the UK over the last few years, especially those relating to offensive speech online: https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/crime/arrests-for-online-hate-speech-in-county-on-rise-1-8697659

      Notice some of the language used by the police in the above article (emphasis mine): “As with other forms of hate crime, it is an offence to make comments online which are perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, sexuality or gender identity.

      “Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said…’A number of sub-categories for the recording of faith and disability hate crimes are being introduced to get a better understanding of the impact of national and international events on local communities and improve and target services for victims’…”

      Meanwhile, in other EU countries where the threat of free speech being lost continues, we have this from Germany: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/europe/germany-36-accused-of-hateful-postings-over-social-media.html

      Here is an article from The Economist on Germany’s ever-expanding hate speech laws, including laws fining social media websites for not removing hate speech quickly. Social media sites are erring on the side of censorship, as the hate speech laws remain unclear: https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21734410-new-social-media-law-causing-disquiet-germany-silencing-hate-speech-cannot-define-it

      Is there anyone still unconvinced of how far this can go and how quickly freedom can be eroded once we allow “hate speech” to be defined and outlawed? It is, apparently, the ultimate slipper slope.”

      • Richard
        Posted March 21, 2018 at 1:44 am | Permalink

        In the past, our good host has asked why people do not use their real names when posting online. It seems a very sensible precaution to me.

    • BJ
      Posted March 20, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Here is the post with the questions I posed:

      “Please read the articles in my comment above. I am interested in how you would explain some of those prosecutions and how they are not made to punish people, but to protect. I am also interested in how prosecuting some of those cases might be “protecting” anyone. After reading all of those links (which are just a handful of more prominent cases among many over these last few years), I’d be interested in how an argument can be made that this is not already an extremely slippery slope, as I remember you saying in the past that these types of laws would not have such far-reaching effects, nor begin targeting political speech that doesn’t incite violence or the like.

      Finally, as you will see in the links from my comment above, some of these are criminal prosecutions, and many of these laws carry not only fines, but prison time. [you had claimed in the post to which this was a response that all the suits regarding hate speech laws were merely civil and/or involving fines]

      There are also some things from Jerry’s post that you did not address. This post isn’t just about the UK refusing entry to these people. Lauren Southern was detained and questioned for two days. Does this not strike you as a frightening abridgment of her personal rights? I’m also interested in your views on this quote from the Home Office spokesperson, who is explicating official policy: “Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.” Anyone “not conducive to the public good” seems like an awfully vague category with implications reaching as far as the government decides it wants. Do you support this?”

    • Posted March 20, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      “How is a law and its concept “slippery”? They set precedent, after all.”

      Laws set precedents, but there are many laws that should never have become law and were not created for the benefit of the “people”. Also, there are many old laws on the books that should have been gotten rid of long ago.

      “And no, the opinion of the people do not (or at least should not) count, and thus do not constitute evidence of slipperiness/problems.”

      If laws are applicable to the “people”, the “people” should be entitled to have opinions about them. They should be able to influence their politicians, who are supposed to serve them, to ensure that the laws do benefit them. Many laws that have been passed are not intended to benefit “people”, but corporations or governmental agencies.

  28. BJ
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    In addition to the links I posted in my response to Torbjorn above, let’s also not forget the Comedian who was fined $42,000 (!) for making a joke deemed to be offensive to a disabled person.

    http://reason.com/blog/2016/08/22/this-comedian-was-fined-42000-for-tellin

    He also had to go through a legal process with the “Canadian Human Rights Tribunal” (yes, the same one that has made other insane proclamations and laws regarding expression that might offend people) that lasted for at least over a year.

    Here’s a quote from the judge who convicted him: “”Unacceptable remarks made in private do not automatically become lawful just because they’re made by a comedian in the public domain. Plus, having a such a platform imposes certain responsibilities.”

    That’s right: the judge said that making a joke about a disabled person even in private would have been against these “human rights” laws and similarly worthy of trial and conviction. The only way the authorities would know if such a remark was ever made in private is if someone who overheard the remark reported the speaker. Does all of this not sound like East Berlin in the 1980’s, where the Secret Police were constantly incentivizing people to report their fellow citizens’ views against the state? It also brings to mind many college campuses, where students are hauled before kangaroo campus courts to answer for things another student found offensive.

    This is becoming truly terrifying.

  29. Nomen Nescio
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    The Metropolitan Police’s definition of a “hate crime” is uber-orwellian:

    “Any criminal offence which is perceived(!) by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race(!); religion or perceived religion(!); sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation(!); disability or perceived disability(!) and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender(!).

    A Hate Incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks(!) is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.”

    https://www.met.police.uk/advice-and-information/hate-crime/what-is-hate-crime/

  30. Posted March 20, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Things have a way of repeating themselves: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-12139150

  31. Diane G.
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    sub

  32. EliHershkovitz
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Scotland must have a remarkably low crime rate in order to devote resources such as the judiciary, incarceration, and extensive monitoring to those who commit speech infractions.

  33. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    As an expatriate Englishman, I’m embarrassed. If I still lived in UK, I’d be outraged. (I know it’s the Scottish plod but that’s too close for comfort. What a pack of morons).

    Sure it’s in bad taste but so fekkin’ what? Bad-taste jokes are a weapon in the war against sanctimonious authority and its thought police.
    (If anyone is the butt of that particular ‘joke’ it’s surely the dog).

    But on that exact topic, howcome Ricky Gervais hasn’t been prosecuted for this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-3niu3HgCg
    – possibly because he’s a well-known and highly successful comedian and the flatties would end up with egg on their face?

    Since I’m English, here’s one of my favourite racist jokes:
    A guy walks into a bar in Australia leading a crocodile on a string and asks “Do you serve Poms in here?”
    “Yeah mate, we’re broadminded”
    “OK, I’ll have a 4X for me and a Pommie for me mate!”

    (‘Pom’ = English)

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      I just watched the video, courtesy of Michael Fisher’s link up there.

      I notice the guy specifically chose Nazis as the ‘least cute’ thing he can think of. I have to say I found it moderately funny, because of his miserable failure to train the dog to do anything.

      I assume the Streisand Effect will now go into operation…

      cr

  34. Tim Harris
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    The law is an ass in this case, and as I am, like infiniteimprobablit, an expatriate Briton, I am embarrassed and appalled. If you are going to prosecute ‘hate speech’ at all, it needs a very clear legal definition, and some sort of common sense on the part of those judging such things. But I really do not think this sort of stupidity is comparable with the tribulations of such as Amy Waxman (who has just been rebuked by the Dean of Penn Law for asserting that black students are inferior)and Steven Anderson, who advocates stoning gay people to death and remarked of the massacre at the Pulse night club in Orlando that there were ‘fifty fewer paedophiles in the world’.

    For those interested in democracy and free speech, I recommend having a look at Channel 4’s documentary on Cambridge Analytica. It is horrifying.

  35. Posted March 21, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Welcome to the fascist state…

  36. Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Whether it’s a joke or not, or whether it was funny or not can hardly be established, and should not matter. In the same vein can it not matter whether it’s offensive to somebody. We can say for sure that it was not embedded in an art context, and it was not criticism or an opinion (inane or well thought-out would not matter).

    I find it wrong that he has to deal with the law. But it’s an edge case. It’s not simple at all.

    I don’t believe in free speech absolutism. There are some careful delineated cases where expressions are not mere words. Most people who defend this case also see this when confronted with doxing, or libel, or defamation, or an outright call to violence. Exposing a secularist in a muslim-majority country can mean death. Giving power to those with large platforms and allowing them to express anything, can mean a fate like that of Christopher Jeffries, or Katharina Blum.

    Mr Meechan did his video at a time when his subculture was still mostly edgelord 4chan humour. For that reason I don’t believe it was meant entirely seriously. But things have changed. Today, the subculture he’s in, and which he himself promoted very well contains InfoWars and New World Order narratives wherein typically Jews in disguise (as Bilderberger, Illuminati, Globalists, reptilians, the EU etc) are portrayed as a shadowy or elite menace that pulls the strings from the background.

    According to identitarian version of the narrative, (((They))) have convinced, through the Lügenpresse, a majority to surrender to the more masculine Muslim invaders, and watch them rape “their” women, which is at the root of the “cuck” insult that is commonplace in this corner. The beta soyboy feminist men in particular let this happen.

    Now you can play some fun games. You can portray the “whites” facing a genocide as funny green little Kekistani frogs, call it a joke. Or you can portray the unhuman Jewish overlords as Reptilians from outer space. It’s the Narrative that matters and in previous times David Icke fooled nobody. Further, throwing some joke into the mix falls into Metamodernism (I believe that the Alt Right is a Metamodernist movement).

    I see here the return of rhetorics, as an art of persuastion that relies on everything else but logic and reason and into which I would place everything else from fire-alarm-pulling to social media witch hunts to oblique memes and jokes. Woke and Alt Right both are by their own admission not honest, or factual movements.

    Meechan’s video did include a call for an action. It might sound like a far-fetched cliché, but it’s actionable, and was done historically also without large scale concentration camps! Would it be fine to spread the message “severe the heads of infidels”? Or would it magically become Ok, when it was delievered by a puppet? Communication is adaptive. You only need to learn that meaningful content is from now on delievered using clips assembled from the Sesame Street. The internet allows to maintain subcultures with their own codes. I know that the Woke crying wolf has made this point impossible to make.

    Often times the narratives and messages are obvious, but they exploit the well-intentioned fairness of liberals and their virtue signalling (yes!). You can say everything, but just make sure it’s delievered by a frog or with a funny pug in the background and suddenly it becomes acceptable — rely on a knee-jerk reaction.

    In Summary: I find a conviction wrong in this instance, but I regard it as an edge case. It contained a call to action that can be put to practice. The joke-defence is naught at this point. He’s on the edge only because the call to action does not immediately enough bring to mind some practical way to carry it out. He paired it with targetting a group, and paired it with the pug delivery. That makes it just murky and blurry enought to not be credible.

    However, all of this knee-jerk defending of such messages only helps further normalizing fascistic and identitarian narratives.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted March 22, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      This is very well said. Had this man’s silly attempt at a joke for his girl-friend (or so he says)been made in circumstances where concerted efforts were being made to destroy Jewish lives, I think, and hope, that the responses to the ‘joke’ would have been rather less sanguine. I might add that I very much disliked the ‘encounter’ arranged by Ricky Gervais between Nietzsche and Hitler, with the latter destroying Jews like lice, singularly un-funny.

    • Posted March 22, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      There are a lot of outfits spreading those narratives, are they edge cases? Or is it literally the repetition of the phrase that makes this an edge case in your opinion?

      • Posted March 23, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        His nickname Count Dankula supposedly comes from dank memes, which was a way for the meme avant garde to describe memes that are old and trite. In typical fashion, this was subverted, and became to mean the opposite in some circles (in a specific so-bad-it’s-good way, or self-deprecating fashion).

        Even without the nickname, it’s clear he’s from the edgelord subculture, and his pug-joke fits into that context very well. It’s already edge by design and intention.

        This subculture has a built-in contradiction. On the one hand, a vocal enough faction is elitist and wants to stay outside of the mainstream. Their resistance against the use of “their” memes was making the whole corner edgy, offensive, obscene, tasteless etc. in all sorts of ways. On the other hand, especially those who also want to be taken seriously, and who have a YouTube channel recently feel misunderstood and all too often written off as actual facists. Since the Adpocalypse, they also feel it in their wallet. The reaction can be read in that way: wanting to transgress, by design, but then complaining when the normies don’t get the joke. I got the joke, and maybe I laughed when I first heard it, but I also regard the joke-factor as relatively unimportant, because it’s inherently subjective.

        In a second way it’s an edge case, because the phrase he uses is itself an edgy meme. The inverted logic of such edgy memes is that the more they are used, the less seriously they are meant. The statement, though a straightforward call to violence, was not delivered in a direct way: The joke comes from juxtaposing a cute pug with a horrible statement. The question is whether statements like this are defused when they are delivered in a grotsque manner, or wrapped up in a meme.

        It’s an edge case to me, because a — on the face of it — straightforward call to violence against a group is combined with circumstances that refect the edgelord subculture humour. Repetition/memes paradoxically make it less serious in this case.

        It’s not simple because what goes on there is not simple. It follows from the crude logic where his statement becomes less plausible as an actual call to action, because the specifics are bitter historical fact, which makes it suitable for an edgy meme. But that really rides on a razor’s edge.

  37. Mike
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Ridiculous decision to prosecute him.

  38. Posted March 21, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    What would David Hume, Adam Smith and James Clerk Maxwell do?

  39. Posted March 23, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Jonathan Pie’s take (NSFW):

    https://tinyurl.com/yb9df66r

  40. Posted March 23, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I taught one of my dogs to “Paw Paw for Jesus!”

    Was that a crime, or was it okay cuz offending Christians is ‘punching up’?


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