A Scottish YouTube creator named Markus Meechan, who goes by the moniker Count Dankula on his YouTube channel to his more than 100,000 subscribers, has been convicted of a hate crime for a video he posted featuring what the courts determined to be anti-Semitic content.
Specifically, Meechan taught his girlfriend’s pug to use the Nazi Sieg Heil salute in a video he posted in 2016. The 30-year-old YouTube creator also taught the dog, ironically named Buddha, to respond to hate speech like “gas the Jews.” His video begins, “My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is, so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi.”
Due for sentencing in April, Meechan has since apologized for the content. “I don’t actually hate Jewish people,” he said, according to The Jewish Chronicle, describing the video as “an insight into the darker side of my humor” and adding that he “did not intend for people, other than people who knew my comedy, to see the video.”
The video was publicly available on YouTube, and its content was judged to be hate speech by Sheriff Derek O’Carroll of the Airdrie Sheriff’s Court in Scotland, where Meechan was convicted. According to multiple reports, O’Carroll said in 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.”
While both the court and Ephraim Borowski, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities’ director who lost family to the Holocaust and who spoke during the trial, did not consider the video a joke, other YouTube creators have come out in support of Meechan. JonTron, aka Jonathan Aryan Jafari, formerly of Game Grumps and currently running the JonTronShow channel, tweeted, “This is getting ridiculous…sets a dangerous precedent, sad day for the state of free speech.”
This is getting ridiculous, man in UK found guilty for making a joke online, facing jail time. Non-partisan issue, sets a dangerous precedent, sad day for the state of free speech. https://t.co/lwmijM5oM9
— JonTron (@JonTronShow) March 20, 2018
Philip DeFranco was also not a fan of Sheriff O’Carroll’s verdict. “This whole f-cking situation is f-cking ridiculous,” he said in a YouTube video addressing it. DeFranco’s reasoning is that while being a Nazi is not okay, making jokes about being a Nazi is.
Sheriff O’Carroll acknowledged this aspect of the case. “This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration,” he said, “but the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.”
Before the court hands down sentencing next month, Meechan may be placed under house arrest with a GPS tracking device, depending on a social worker’s assessment. Meanwhile, Meechan’s current pinned tweet is a picture of him getting arrested for the offense back in February.
Yup that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.. pic.twitter.com/fdyxTLi5hN
— Count Dankula (@CountDankulaTV) February 18, 2017