'Nazi pug' case: Scottish court finds man guilty of hate crime

'Nazi pug' case: Scottish court finds man guilty of hate crime March 21, 2018

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.

He added:

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.

Brown said:

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

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  • H3r3tic

    I am profoundly disturbed by this. If the video had been shown on YBF with an appropriately inane Harry Hill voiceover it would have been roundly ignored, or at least considered vaguely humerous. But because the publisher is not a recognised twunt ,a la Michael McIntyre, he can be deemed a criminal. Sheriff O’Carroll states that “in my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive.” Well I can state, for the record, that I think Sheriff O’Carroll is a fuckwitted numpty who, to the best of my belief, spends his Tuesday evenings sucking off goats. I would like to think that Sheriff O’Carroll could come to the reasonable conclusion that this statement is “grossly offensive” and I would invite him to take legal proceedings against me for publishing it on a public forum, the cunt.

  • Bob Anderson

    Why wasn’t the dog arrested?

  • gary

    RIP Free Speech.

  • Angela_K

    Meechan is a bit of an idiot and not a nice person but to take him to court for this nonsense has implications for freedom of speech. Somebody should have a word with him about the suffering caused to Pugs due to selective breeding.

  • L.Long

    “hate crime” same as blasphemy..both are pure BS.
    I don’t care what someone says or makes a video about. His ACTIONS are important. YA! I know the old BS about some dude preaching hate causes other dude to kill! BS!!! the 2nd dude hates & kills, he is at fault, the preacher is just a preacher, and they all say hateful crap. When preachers are arrested and charged for hate crime because he said hate crap (read the buyBull or koran) then watch the shit hit the fan but they are no different than this dude.

  • andym

    Well . This is stupid thing to do, but if stupidity is now a crime, shouldn’t Sheriff O’ Carroll be jailing himself? Disturbing.I hope he gets a lawyer specialising in freedom of speech to represent him pro-bono for the appeal.

  • barriejohn

    I can see the free speech arguments, but while I find teaching your dog to perform a Nazi salute when you say “Sieg Heil” quite amusing (my uncle thought it was hilarious to teach my nan’s budgie to say, “Bugger”, but the joke soon wore off), I do find the “Gas the Jews” bit very disturbing.

  • L.Long

    Also I like these people saying the hate out loud & public, cuz now I know who they are and what they think! Now I know one person I would never let with 10mi of my family!

  • AgentCormac

    I do find the “Gas the Jews” bit very disturbing.
    Me too, barriejohn. And you know fine well why Tommy Robinson, or whatever he likes to call himself, was there supporting Meechan: he wants to do what he can to ensure he still has the right to stir up racism.

  • andym

    You don’t like the “Gas The Jews.”Nor do I.
    You don’t like the fact that Robinson is getting involved. Nor do I.
    The question remains:Should he have been prosecuted?
    If your answer is “No,” the subsidiary question is, “Should it be left to the far right to defend him?”

  • barriejohn

    @andym: I’m not happy about prosecutions for “hate crime” per se. Why, for example, criminalise people for “Holocaust denial” when their stupid assertions can easily be challenged and refuted? They are just being driven underground. However, this guy is not being honest, and his defence sucks. If he did this to annoy his girlfriend I’m a fucking Chinaman, and I can see that his video – posted online and so widely viewed – can be seen as encouraging anti-Semitism. Call me a cynic if you like, but I’m wondering whether they were waiting for the reaction that they got.

  • andym

    If you’re right, they played into his hands by prosecuting him. It would be playing further into his hands if the far right grabbed the attention for being the main supporters in a free speech case.

  • RussellW

    It’s just an early April Fool’s Day joke, isn’t it?
    Why wasn’t “Buddha” charged with a ‘hate crime’? How in the name of reason can a dog make ‘Nazi salutes’?

  • StephenJP

    @barriejohn, I take your point, and I agree that this fairly unpleasant individual could well have made this video to provoke the inevitable reaction. But whether we agree with his intent or not, the outcome has been to make us all consider where the limits of free speech might lie. My view is that, offensive though the video is, it is not only wrong but unwise and even dangerous to prosecute the man for making it. It could be any trenchant critic of any religion next.
    “First they came for the bigots; and I did not speak out because I was not a bigot…”

  • Daz

    If “free speech” allows people to openly threaten genocide, then “free speech” needs a serious look at.
    ’cause at the end of the day, that’s what Nazism is. It’s what wearing a swastika, or heiling Hitler actually means. It means “I intend to kill you, your friends, your relatives, your defenders and anyone like you.”
    And it’s all very well saying things like “Ideas should be debated, not banned,” but the holders of those ideas do not debate. Why should they debate subhumans? And to them, anyone who is not one of them is, by definition, subhuman. And frankly, there is nothing to debate. I mean, really, what is debatable about the idea that “X group are subhuman and should be killed en mass”? There is no middle ground, there are no subtle points to be teased out and examined. Either someone is a genocidal bigot, or they’re not.

  • barriejohn

    @andym: I agree, and it’s an old trick, but I don’t think there was any alternative under the terms of the Communications Act (a veritable “minefield”):
    It’s definitely made a martyr of him, which is probably what they had in mind.

  • barriejohn

    PS I don’t think this prosecution has forced Meechan into the arms of “the great Tommy Robinson” (though I do respect that argument), as they seem to be BIG friends:

  • Great Satan

    Can’t offend “God’s Chosen People” can we – this verdict will have the intended effect of people policing their own thoughts. let alone express them.

  • andym

    If this is a right wing set up, aimed not just at the authorities but anti-fascist free speech supporters, a way to bounce it back on them would be to support his right to make the video while ridiculing him for doing so. #freespeechforfuckwits, “Morons have rights,” that sort of thing.

  • Broga

    Angela_K : Dog standards imposed by the Kennel Club are a scandal.
    That pug has an uncanny resemblance to Meechan and is just as messed up. The Kennel Club, given loads of publicity by the BBC, has been a disaster for pedigree dogs. Bulldogs and pugs struggle to breathe because of the crazy “breed standards.” Many bulldogs can only give birth via ceasarians.
    The difference between photographs of early Labradors and the stars of the Kennel Club show the havoc caused by the breed standards imposed by the Kennel Club.
    What the Kennel Club has done to breed dogs’ bodies is comparable to what the RC Church, and other religions, has done to the human brain.

  • AgentCormac

    I’ve no doubt Meechan thinks saying things like ‘gas the Jews’ and having his dog mimic Nazi salutes are actually all just a big laugh. But surely these actions go beyond having a view on or making criticism of religion. He is actually laughing at the state-sponsored genocide of an entire people. So I’m with Daz on this one. There has to be a Rubicon somewhere – once you cross it your right to free speech becomes a threat to everyone else. And the likes of Tommy Robinson are there waiting for you on the other side with open arms.

  • andym

    @ AC Are you saying the decision to prosecute was correct?

  • barriejohn

    Having watched the video on Info Wars (link above), I have the impression that he wanted to post a video of himself saying “Gas the Jews” as many times as possible just to see whether he could get away with it. The dog hardly seems involved, and I’m not at all bothered by its “salute”. As for “playing into his hands”, you could say the same about killers on suicide missions, shooting students in schools. The authorities can’t just stand back and say, “See if we care.” We all know that there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech; we can’t allow libel or slander, we can’t allow harassment and threats, and we can’t allow incitement to violence. I don’t think that there was any alternative but to prosecute here, but I am still uneasy about many of the restrictions imposed by the Communications Act, which, as has been said many times before, seems to allow blasphemy laws by the back door.

  • andym

    I can’t see where this was argued in court about an any incitement to violence.All I can see is that it is called “grossly offensive.”Not the same thing.

  • barriejohn

    Great Satan: It’s interesting that David Baddiel supports the man, but I can understand why many Jews are still apprehensive about the threat of renewed persecution. The Holocaust only occurred seventy years ago – in an erstwhile civilized country – and some of the statements made by Arab leaders about Israel and the Jews are preposterous, whatever is happening in the Middle East.

  • AgentCormac

    There is is an excellent article in this morning’s Guardian on precisely this subject:

  • barriejohn

    @andym: I object to this “grossly offensive” business as well, which is why I don’t like the Act. I don’t go around looking for religious nutters to offend, but if any visit a site like this one peddling their twaddle I think I should be free to speak my mind, even if they take offence. However, if I were Jewish, I think that I might find someone repeatedly saying “Gas the Jews” very threatening indeed, even if they claim that it was “a joke”.

  • Angela_K

    @Broga.This Dog breeding for fashion is indeed a scandal, I’m dismayed the British Veterinary Association aren’t more vocal about this cruel practise considering the suffering caused to Dogs, I do some voluntary work with Cats Protection helping to rescue and re-home Cats and unfortunately I see some Cats that have been bred purely to have flat faces that will cause breathing problems.

  • andym

    ” we can’t allow libel or slander, we can’t allow harassment and threats, and we can’t allow incitement to violence.”
    Which of those was it? if “harrassment” how do you distinguish between how some Jewish people might have felt, and how your hypothetical religious nutters might claim you made them feel?

  • Daz

    “Which of those was it? if “harrassment” how …”

    I’d think a case for what the CPS calls “collective harassment” could easily be made. But I’d say “gas all the Jews,”falls pretty neatly into the category of “incitement to violence.”
    As to how people feel, there is, I’d say, an obvious difference between feeling threatened by someone speaking of gassing one, and feeling offended that someone has criticised one’s religion.

  • andym

    So neatly it’s not even mentioned in the court reports.

  • Daz

    True: which is why I agree with barriejohn that the Act, as written, is highly problematical. But at the same time, the result has been that someone who openly advocated genocide will be in some way punished for that act.
    Where I disagree with many of the commenters here is over the idea that such speech—the open advocacy of mass murder—should be protected under any law, regardless of how badly the current law is written.
    All freedom-restrictive laws, from those regarding drink-driving to those regarding hate-speech and the like, represent an attempt to balance the right of the individual to free action against the right of others to protection from harmful actions. And,yes, it’s complicated, and a correct balance (especially one which pleases everybody) is probably impossible to guarantee. But civilised society seems to me to be an impossibility if we opt for either extreme. On the one hand plain tyranny, on the other the tyranny of the mob. Both of them equating to rule by fear.

  • AgentCormac

    Where I disagree with many of the commenters here is over the idea that such speech—the open advocacy of mass murder—should be protected under any law, regardless of how badly the current law is written.
    Is right. There’s a world of difference between criticising and/or mocking the beliefs of others (which I’m convinced Gervais and Baddiel think they are standing up for) and publicly re-iterating ideology which led to the state-sponsored murder of millions of innocent people. The implication from the latter being that belief in nazi ideals is still alive and kicking – something I’m sure is capable of causing alarm and fear in a great many people.

  • Vanity Unfair

    We should be glad it was only a dog he was training. Who knows what could happen if someone tried that on a human?

  • Bubblecar

    Big mistake for the comedians here. This Scottish cunt is not a comedian, he’s a far-right bastard and an embarrassment to Scotland.

  • Neil

    I don’t think many of you really understand the seriousness of this conviction. I think most of you are badly caught up in the new, ‘progressive’ version of reality where “everyone is a nazi if they don’t agree with me” and punching ‘nazi’s’ is a great and good aim. I will no longer visit this site, you are no longer freethinkers. https://youtu.be/1KCzbVtxkso?list=WL

  • Angela_K

    @Neil. I suggest you re-read ALL the comments to get a better understanding of what various people here have actually said, including our fears about this conviction..

  • Daz

    “I don’t think many of you really understand the seriousness of this conviction.”

    You’re right. That fact that I disagree with you can only possibly be indicative of my lack of understanding. It cannot possibly be true that I have reached an informed opinion which is different from your own.

    “I think most of you are badly caught up in the new, ‘progressive’ version of reality where “everyone is a nazi if they don’t agree with me””

    And once again you hit the nail squarely on the head. My application of the label “Nazi ” to a person who has openly and publicly advocated the gassing of Jews has nothing to do with their behaviour or stated opinions, and has everything to do with the fact that they have the temerity to disagree with me.

    “you are no longer freethinkers.”

    Ah, if I had a quid for every time…

  • barriejohn

    Oh, the irony: someone who thinks that we’re not speaking up enough in defence of free speech is refusing to listen to listen to us any more!

  • Broga

    I wonder how he trained the dog? He doesn’t seem to be the kind of man who would be up to date on the modern, kind and effective methods e.g. clicker training.

  • Tim

    There’s a very good article on Why Evolution Is True https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/guardian-columnist-calls-for-banning-hate-speech/ showing why the Guardian article may not be quite as marvellous as AgentCormac seems to think it is.

  • Broga

    Tim: I was pleased to read that article and I found it persuasive.

  • Daz

    Okay, half of Coyne’s article goes completely off-topic to discuss no-platforming, and the other half seems to make the ludicrous assertion that hate-speech does not (or might not; he obfuscates somewhat) lead to violence. At which point I find myself wondering:
    1: How does he think the idea that this group or that group should be targeted for violence gets around? Does it just magically appear in lots of people’s heads at the same moment?
    2: If speech is so gosh-darned ineffectual that it cannot persuade people to do things, why does he think it so important a thing in the first place?