By Dylan R.N. Crabb
A British YouTube creator by the name of Markus Meechan (also known as Count Dankula) is currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of posting “grossly offensive” content on the video-sharing website.
What content sparked this criminal trial in the United Kingdom? A video displaying an adorable little dog raising one paw in the style of a salute while dressed in a parody of an old Nazi uniform. While the dog is pushed through these antics, the dog-owner (Meechan) is shouting the words “gas the Jews” in a playful, sarcastic manner. In a statement to Scottish police, Meechan said that he made the video to annoy his girlfriend.
Journalist Tim Pool reports from his home:
Why was the creator, Mark Meechan, arrested for his video which was obviously created for purposes of satirical entetainment? Because someone apparently reported the video as offensive.
Political activist Tommy Robinson reports from outside Airdrie Sheriff Court in Lanarkshire, Scotland:
There are concerning issues about this conviction that should be obvious to any reasonable person who values individual liberty. First and foremost: if a government has legitimate authority to regulate the spoken words in a public forum, who within that government will decide which words should be regulated or banned and what is the metric for supposedly dangerous words? How is a government to regulate spoken words and individual expressions? Tim Pool raises an important problem with this new precedent: if we are going to criminalize speech/rhetoric based on how they affect the feelings of another person, how many people must be offended to warrant a crime?
This story is only a story because enough people saw Meechan’s video and at least one person reported it as “offensive.” What is the metric regarding the publicity of controversial content? What about news organizations reporting on such content?
Here is the main problem with censorship laws based on controversial content: any kind of content can be considered controversial depending on the context of the content and the state of the society at the time of publication. A person can be offended by anything which makes censorship laws extremely easy to abuse for personal gain.
The ironic aspect of this story is that Meechan’s joke is rooted in satire, he is making fun of Nazis rather than advocating for them. That is the purpose of satire and it displays the superficial nature of identity politics, classifying individuals as nothing more than their physical make-up. Whoever was offended by Meechan’s video was assuming his intentions and rushing to supposedly defend the honor of all Jewish people (despite perhaps not knowing any Jewish people on an individual level). Never mind the purpose of comedy is to make light out of terrible situations, the rising movements of identitarianism would rather create societies to reflect what we initially see and take it at face value not placing any deeper thought into rhetorical devices (rather counter-intuitive considering most human communication is non-verbal).
A dangerous, anti-liberal precedent has been set in the U.K. and I hope to see a tide of protests across Britain in support of Markus Meechan. Free speech is the foundation of liberty from which an individualist culture springs forth and it must be vigorously defended. No other person or organization should have control over what one person can and cannot say or write especially a government.