Dogs are arguably the greatest animal known to man. They are adorable, lovable, and loyal. Dogs have contributed so much to humanity over the years that they have been bestowed the title, “Man’s Best Friend.” When a Scottish man turned his girlfriend’s harmless pug into a Nazi however, it did not go over well.
In April of 2016, a Youtube video entitled “M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi [sic]” sprang forth from the depths of the internet. The two-and-a-half minute long video shows Scottish internet comic Mark Meechan teaching his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, how to Sieg Heil and respond positively to phrases like “Gas the Jews” and “Who’s a good Nazi?” Whether the jokes were in good taste or not, the video of the small puppy is quite comical, and one can’t help but smile seeing Buddha’s excited expressions. The punchline of this story is not that an innocent dog was transformed into something sinister, but that this man may be facing jail time.
In May of 2016, Meechan was arrested for the video, pending trial for charges of committing a hate crime. On March 20th, 2018, after what had turned into a two year investigation, Meechan was found guilty of a hate crime under Britain’s Communication Act, with sentencing deferred to the 23rd of April. This means he could face jail time for an internet video that did not harm anyone, and was done in an obviously joking fashion. When asked why he made the video, Meechan insisted he turned his girlfriend’s dog into a Nazi to pull a prank on his girlfriend and intended no harm to Jews or any other race. According to his Twitter account, Meechan was also asked to consult a court social worker to assess whether or not he should be issued a GPS-based anklet and placed under house arrest until sentencing.
For many Americans, this kind of thing is unheard of. The idea that someone would be jailed for a joke is itself laughable. This isn’t some Middle Eastern dictatorship; this is in the West. Many Americans should see this as an insane overstep by the British government that could be ripped straight out of a page of Orwell’s 1984. Imagine the outrage had a Californian court sentenced a man to prison and physically tracked his location beforehand, all because of something he said.
On a positive note, in the aftermath of the trial, many prominent British comedians rushed to denounce the judicial embarrassment. Ricky Gervais, a man nowhere near right-wing, tweeted out his disdain for the attack on Free Speech just minutes after the verdict. Another British comic, Shappi Khorsandi, expressed her disgust at the verdict, and spoke about her father’s run-in with Iran’s dictatorial government jailing people for their speech before he fled.
Sadly, our neighbors across the pond do not share our Constitution. All Meechan can do now is sit and await his fate at the hands of a tyrannical government. If nothing else, this story serves as an example to why we should be grateful to live in such a free country, a country in which we cannot be jailed for speech, let alone internet puppy videos.
A copy of the original video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD_QlnY8Ggg