‘Nazi pug’ case: Scottish court finds man guilty of hate crime
Mark Meechan, 30, pictured above with a pug called Buddha, will be sentenced next month after he was found guilty this week of posting a video on YouTube that was ‘anti-semitic and racist in nature’.
According to this report, Meechan filmed the dog – his girlfriend’s pet – giving Nazi salutes. It responded to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil by raising its paw in a video called “M8 Yur Dug’s a Nazi” which was posted online in April 2016. It was viewed by more than three million people.
Meechan was subsequently arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime, and was put on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong- doing. He insisted he made the video to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29.
However, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act, and said he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend. He ruled it anti-Semitic:
In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive. The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand.
This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility. The accused is quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man.
The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.
Ross Brown, defending, alleged that Police Scotland wrongly pursued Meechan despite his later videos attempting to “set the record straight”.
The purpose was to annoy his girlfriend but there was no evidence that he intended to cause fear or alarm. His girlfriend testified that Mr Meechan had never made known to her any any anti-Semitic views whatsoever. The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views.
Among those who expressed concern over the verdict are Jewish comedian David Baddiel, left, and actor and comedian Ricky Gervais.
Baddiel, according to Brown, voiced his support for Meechan and asked for him to walk free. And Gervais tweeted:
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.
I fucking hate religion. I’ve criticised and ridiculed it for 40 years. Yet if my government tried to ban it or criminalise it, I would march alongside those poor fools and fight hard for their right to believe any fucking stupid nonsense they chose.
I can see that the video may not be to everyone’s taste. Others may be able to see the comedic or satirical element to it. The court should seek to acquit Mr Meechan for no other reason but to show it is 2018 and not 1984.
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson attended court in support of Meechan.
Robinson, real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, said the case was:
A huge free speech issue.
Speaking outside court Meechan, a first offender, said:
We are going to appeal. There has been a miscarriage of justice. I think it is a very dark day in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
The thing that was most worrying is that one of the primary things that has to be considered is things like context and intent and that was completely disregarded. For any comedians in Britain, be very, very worried about making jokes in future because the context and intent behind them apparently don’t matter any more.
Sheriff O’Carroll deferred sentence on Meechan until April 23 for background reports and a restriction of liberty assessment.
Hat tip: Antony Niall