A British Youtube user was recently convicted of a hate crime after posting a video depicting him teaching a dog to give Nazi salutes.
Recess called to await sentencing.— Count Dankula🏴 (@CountDankulaTV) March 20, 2018
Mark Meechan, known to fans as Count Dankula, was tried and found guilty under the Communications Act over the clip which showed him instructing his girlfriend's dog to respond to phrases like "Sieg Heil" and "Gas the Jews."
While Meechan claimed the video was just a joke that he came up with to mess with his girlfriend, Sheriff Derek O'Carroll refused to accept the explanation and labeled the clip "grossly offensive."
Suzanne Kelly, Meechan's girlfriend, attempted to defend him during the trial, telling the court that the YouTuber is not anti-Semitic, and that he has "always been very supportive towards minority groups," as reported by FOX News.
"[The dog] will lift his paw to virtually anything if he gets a treat for it. We have taught him to lift his paw to food, like ham or cheese," Kelly added. "They were just words to make him lift his paw and I know those words were used in the context of the video."
Meechan was expected to be sentenced as well, but later tweeted that it had been "deferred" until April 23.
"While awaiting sentencing, Court has ordered that I meet with a court social worker for an assessment as to whether or not a Restriction Of Liberty Order will be placed on me. This would involve a GPS tracking device being attached to me and me being placed under house arrest," he added in a subsequent tweet."
I don't know about you but I've had a hell of a day.— Count Dankula🏴 (@CountDankulaTV) March 20, 2018
Following the verdict, Meechan spoke with reporters, saying that he believes "there has been a huge miscarriage of justice."
"I think it is a very, very dark day in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. One of the primary things that must be considered in cases like this is context and intent and today context and intent were completely disregarded," Meechan added.
"For the system to actually disregard such things means that your actions no longer matter - they decide what your context and intent is," he continued. "For any comedians making jokes in Britain, I'd be very, very worried about your future because — the context and intent — apparently they don't matter anymore."
Interestingly, one British comedian did come to Meechan's defense, Ricky Gervais.
"A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed 'grossly offensive,'" Gervais said. "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."