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Mark Meechan (known as Count Dankula on YouTube) is a comedian who was arrested for uploading a joke video where he taught his dog to react to the phrases "Sieg Heil" and "Gas the Jews". Meechan claimed the video was a prank on his girlfriend; the judge called it "grossly offensive and contained menacing, anti-Semitic and racist material" and questioned whether his girlfriend would have seen it, as she didn't subscribe to the YouTube channel it was posted on. Meechan's case attracted support from many comedians including Ricky Gervais, David Baddiel, Stephen Fry, Tom Walker and Shappi Khorsandi, although other comedians, such as Omid Djalili, Robert Webb, and Dara O'Briain, were less keen, and some people pointed out how the far right pretend to be "only joking" to legitimise extremist beliefs.
Meechan was found to be in violation of the Communications Act 2003 and fined £800.
His conviction was followed by a variety of expressions of support ranging from liberals and libertarians to racists and anti-semites. The Liberalists UK (who claim to be an organisation combining liberals of various types from centre-left to centre-right) held an event in support of Meechan in London on April 23. Meechan met with far-right leader Tommy Robinson in March 2018, prior to Robinson's jailing. Robinson also protested outside the court when Meechan was sentenced. Meechan spoke at a far-right "March For Freedom" in London on May 6, 2018, alongside Milo Yiannopoulos, Lauren Southern (via video link as she's banned from the UK), and UKIP leader Gerard Batten.
Mark has been a large supporter of UKIP, campaigning for them in a few videos and going on to run as MEP for Scotland.
Tory MP Phillip Davies condemned Meechan's conviction in the House of Commons and MEP David Coburn called the ruling "an embarrassment". Other public figures who supported Meechan included Douglas Murray, Rachel Riley, Kenan Malik and the Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg.
- Count Dankula found guilty of hate crime after teaching pet pug 'Nazi salute'
- M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi
- 'Nazi dog' prankster Mark Meechan to ask public for £100k for High Court 'free speech' appeal, The Herald (Glasgow, UK), 24 April 2018
- The far-right use online jokes to launder right wing ideology, and mainstream comedians are helping them do it, Luke Bailey, i (UK), 28 March 2018
- Facebook event
- Scottish Libertarians to host protest against conviction of YouTuber who trained ‘Nazi pug’ to salute the phrase ‘gas the Jews’, The Scottish Sun, 21 Mar 2018
- Man who taught girlfriend's pet pug dog to perform Nazi salutes fined £800, The Independent, 23 April 2018
- 'Day for Freedom' protest in London: Scuffles break out as thousands descend on capital for far-right rally, MSN.com/Evening Standard, 6 May 2018
- Riley later tried to imply on Twitter that left-winger Owen Jones was displaying unconscious antisemitism for making fun of Alan Sugar when Sugar threatened to leave the country if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minister. Therefore demonstrating that she was prepared to defend a probable antisemite who implausibly claimed to be making a joke, while making up unsubstantiated insinuations of antisemitism against people on the left.