A 30-year-old man named Mark Meechan from Coatbridge, Scotland was fined £800 for filming his girlfriend’s pug, “Buddha,” doing Nazi salutes. Meechan says he trained the pug to react to phrases like “gas the Jews” to irritate his girlfriend, then uploaded the video to his popular “Count Dankula” account on YouTube, where it was viewed over three million times.
The case initially drew attention last month when Meechan was convicted of a hate crime, and when he showed up for sentencing on Monday he was met with dozens of protesters who were in support of him. The judge presiding over the case, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll, was not to be swayed however and imposed Meechan with the hefty fine anyway.
“You use the command Sieg Heil, having trained the dog to raise its paw in response and the video shows a clip of a Nuremberg rally and a flashing image of Hitler with strident music. You say the video was only intended as a joke to upset your girlfriend, whose dog you used, and nothing more.
“On the whole evidence..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.”
O’Carroll added that it was of “little assistance” to that he didn’t intend for the joke to be actually racist, but Meechan is not taking the ruling lying down (pun intended) and plans to appeal his sentence.
“This is a really dangerous precedent to set, for people to say things and their context to be completely ignored and then they can be convicted for it,” Meechan later told the press. “You don’t get to decide the context, other people don’t get to decide the context, the court decides. That’s dangerous.”
After the case drew national attention, Ricky Gervais tweeted in support of Meechan last month, noting that Freedom of Speech should protect a person’s right to say things that some may find “grossly offensive.”