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Mark Meechan

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Mark Meechan
Count Dankula live interview still (cropped).png
Meechan in an interview in December 2017
Personal information
BornMark Meechan
(1987-10-17) 17 October 1987 (age 33)[1][2]
NationalityScottish
OccupationYouTuber, comedian, political activist
Spouse(s)
Suzanne Kelly
(m. 2019)
[3]
YouTube information
Also known asCount Dankula
Channels
Years active2015–present
Subscribers763,000 (Count Dankula)
198,000 (Count Dankula 2)
17,300 (Count Dankula Streams) – as of 1 September 2020
Total views91.6 million (Count Dankula)
6.78 million (Count Dankula 2)
257,000 (Count Dankula Streams) – as of 2 May 2020
YouTube information
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018

Updated: 2 May 2020

Mark Meechan (born 17 October 1987)[1] is a Scottish YouTuber, comedian and former UK Independence Party candidate for the European Parliament.[4][5] He uses the online name Count Dankula.

Meechan received press coverage when he posted a satirical video as his girlfriend mentioned how cute her dog was, so he made a video where he "would turn him into the least cute thing that I could think of, which is, a nazi"[2]. The video showed him teaching his girlfriend's dog how to raise its paw in the manner of a Nazi salute, and to react to the phrase "Do you wanna gas the Jews?"[6][7][8][9] Meechan was arrested and convicted of being "grossly offensive" under the Communications Act 2003, following a trial in March 2018. The arrest generated controversy and discussions about free speech.[10][11] In April 2018, Meechan was fined £800.[12][13] Meechan stated he would not pay the fine,[14] and instead donated £800 to the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity.[15] In March 2019, the money was seized from his bank account by an arrestment order.[16]

Arrest

In April 2016, Meechan posted a video on YouTube of his girlfriend's pet pug Buddha titled "M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi".[17] At the start of the video, he says: "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."[9] In the video, the dog, prompted by the command "Sieg Heil", raises his right paw in the manner of a Nazi salute, watches a speech by Adolf Hitler, and responds immediately when Meechan asks if he wants to "gas the Jews".[8][9] It ends with images of Hitler and Buddha depicted with a toothbrush moustache similar to Hitler's.[18][better source needed]

Meechan was arrested on suspicion of breaching the Communications Act 2003.[19] On 19 March 2018, Meechan was convicted of breaching the act by Sheriff Derek O'Carroll at Airdrie Sheriff Court.[20] The court ruled that Meechan's claim that the video was a joke intended for his girlfriend "lacked credibility" as Meechan's girlfriend did not subscribe to the YouTube channel to which the video was posted.[10][20] On 23 April 2018, Meechan was sentenced to a fine of £800, with no prison sentence.[13]

Reaction

Approximately 500 people gathered in London to protest for free speech when the sentence was handed out.[21] Following Meechan's conviction, British comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel made comments supporting Meechan.[10][19][22][23] Others who opposed the prosecution included Kenan Malik, Tim Blair, Helen Dale, Douglas Murray, Tom Walker, Shappi Khorsandi, Marc Randazza, Jonathan Turley and Stephen Fry.[30] Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg stated that the right to free expression must include the right to offend, "otherwise the freedom is meaningless".[13]

Sitcom writer Graham Linehan condemned Meechan. Meechan responded by saying that Linehan's show Father Ted also contained Nazi-related jokes.[31] Meechan was scrutinised for embracing support from right-wing figures Alex Jones and Tommy Robinson, to which he replied: "Imagine totally abandoning protecting human rights, just because someone you don't like is defending them too. Astounding."[31] On 6 May 2018, Meechan spoke at the "Day for Freedom" rally, organised by Robinson, which was described as far-right by news media and observers.[32][33][34][35]

David Coburn, the United Kingdom Independence Party Member of the European Parliament for Scotland, released a two-page statement condemning the ruling as "an embarrassment".[36] Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, brought up Meechan's case in the House of Commons and said: "Can we have a debate about freedom of speech in this country – something this country has long held dear and is in danger of throwing away needlessly?"[37]

Sheriff O'Carroll noted that there were only "very limited" submissions from the defence and the prosecution on the matter of the law as it regards freedom of expression; because of this, the trial was "concerned, ultimately, only with the narrow fact-based question of whether the Crown has proved beyond reasonable doubt that your using a public communications network on one day to post the video onto your video channel, constituted an offence contrary to section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003".[38] He said the ruling sets no precedent.[20]

Meechan started a GoFundMe campaign on 24 April 2018 to raise £100,000 for an appeal and reached his goal as of 25 April.[39] In August 2018, Meechan announced that his request for an appeal had been denied by a member of the Sheriff Appeal Court, who also accused Meechan's lawyer of contempt. The letter stated that the appeal was "not arguable" due to the nature of the "deeply unpleasant offence". Meechan stated that he plans to contest the matter with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.[40] Meechan's lawyer Dorothy Bain subsequently petitioned the High Court of Justiciary to hear the case. Senior judge Lord Carloway opined that the High Court did not have the power to grant an appeal denied by the Sheriff Court.[41] In March 2019, the £800 was seized from Meechan's bank account under an arrestment order.[16]

On 17 June 2020, Meechan announced that his additional appeal to the Supreme Court was also rejected. Meechan stated his intention to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.[42]

BBC Scotland planned to feature Meechan in a 2019 debate program, The Collective, and had him film two episodes. However, the network announced that these episodes would not be aired after a backlash over the announcement.[43] BBC Three produced a documentary on Meechan's case which aired during the summer.[44][45]

Politics

On 16 June 2018, Meechan announced that he had joined UKIP along with fellow YouTubers Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson in what Watson describes as an attempted "soft coup".[46][47][48]

In April 2019, Meechan said he intended to stand for MEP on behalf of UKIP in the upcoming 2019 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom.[49][50] He was named fourth on UKIP's list in Scotland,[51] but was not elected after UKIP won only 1.8% of the vote in Scotland.[52]

In November 2019, Meechan posted a video announcing that he had left UKIP, citing internal disputes and backstabbing within the party over their leadership as his reason for leaving.[53]

On 25 July 2020 Meechan announced on Twitter that he had joined the Scottish nationalist Scottish Libertarian Party.[54]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Meechan, Mark [@CountDankulaTV] (17 October 2018). "It's My Birthday" (Tweet). Retrieved May 16, 2019 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Sophie (20 March 2018). "Man who taught dog Nazi salute found guilty of hate crime"". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  3. ^ @SUEHULK (June 16, 2019). "Look how handsome @CountDankulaTV is!" (Tweet). Retrieved January 10, 2020 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ Miller, Graham (29 July 2017). "Coatbridge man who taught his girlfriend's dog to do a Nazi salute faces court". Daily Record. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  5. ^ Cramb, Auslan (20 March 2018). "YouTube user convicted of hate crime over pet dog's 'Nazi salutes'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  6. ^ Norton, Oliver (20 April 2016). "Shocking video shows man training 'Hitler dog' to perform a Nazi salute". Mirror Online. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Video of man teaching dog Nazi salute meets outrage". Times of Israel. 23 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b Wootson, Cleve R Jr (12 September 2017). "This video showed a Nazi-saluting dog. Was posting it on YouTube a hate crime?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  9. ^ a b c "Hate crime trial of YouTube user over video of dog 'taught to do Nazi salute'". The Telegraph. 12 September 2017. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "Man guilty of hate crime over 'Nazi pug'". BBC News. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Man convicted of hate crime for video of dog giving Nazi salute". NY Daily News. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  12. ^ "YouTuber Count Dankula could face year in jail for Nazi dog video". Newshub. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Dearden, Lizzie (23 April 2018). "Man who filmed girlfriend's dog giving Nazi salutes fined £800". The Independent. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  14. ^ Count Dankula (November 15, 2018). Young Independence 2018 - Count Dankula. Retrieved November 15, 2018 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "Nazi dog Youtuber donates court fine to charity". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  16. ^ a b MacDonald, Stuart (11 April 2019). "Nazi pug man Mark Meechan hopes to stand as Ukip MEP". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  17. ^ Count Dankula (April 11, 2016). M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi. Archived from the original on May 11, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2019 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ Griffith, Connor (2018-04-20). "Offensive jokes becoming criminal? Count Dankula's conviction". Keep Calm and Talk Law. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  19. ^ a b "YouTuber found guilty of hate crime for teaching pet pug 'Nazi salute'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  20. ^ a b c "PF v Mark Meechan - Judgments & Sentences - Judiciary of Scotland". www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  21. ^ Williams, Martin (2018-04-23). "Row over police filming London protest over Scots 'Nazi dog' creator conviction". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  22. ^ a b Malik, Kenan (25 March 2018). "The 'Nazi pug': giving offence is inevitable and often necessary in a plural society". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  23. ^ "YouTuber Count Dankula found guilty of hate speech for 'Nazi salute' pug video". 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  24. ^ Murray, Douglas (2018-04-23). "The Prosecution of Count Dankula". National Review. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  25. ^ Khorsandi, Shappi (23 March 2018). "The conviction of Count Dankula sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech". The Independent. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Jonathan Pie Defends YouTuber Convicted for Nazi Pug Video". Yahoo News. 2018-03-26. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  27. ^ Blair, Tim (2018-04-26). "From being fined to being very fine indeed". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  28. ^ Randazza, Marc (2018-03-22). "Scottish comedian's Nazi salute dog video was awful. But it wasn't a crime". CNN. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  29. ^ Turley, Jonathan (2019-08-22). "New Jersey event canceled after threats from anti-free speech groups". Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  30. ^ [22][24][25][26][27][28][29]
  31. ^ a b Williams, Martin (27 March 2018). "How 'Nazi dog' creator Mark Meechan clashed with Father Ted writer". Herald. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  32. ^ Bailey, Luke (2018-05-08). "Tommy Robinson's "Day For Freedom" rally was about promoting far right ideology, not free speech". i. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  33. ^ Grafton-Green, Patrick (6 May 2018). "Scuffles break out as thousands descend on London for far-right rally". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  34. ^ Wright, Mic (7 May 2018). "A snowflake crowd at the 'Day for Freedom' protest". GQ UK. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  35. ^ Strudwick, Patrick (11 May 2018). "The Drag Queen Who Sang At A Far-Right Rally Says Inciting Hatred Shouldn't Be A Crime". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  36. ^ Williams, Martin (2018-03-28). "Scots UKIP chief says 'Nazi Dog' conviction is 'a national disgrace and embarrassment'". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  37. ^ Coulter, Martin (22 March 2018). "Yorkshire MP Philip Davies backs Ricky Gervais in freedom of speech row after YouTuber Count Dankula found guilty of making 'highly offensive' video". Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  38. ^ "Communications Act 2003". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  39. ^ Coulter, Martin (2018-04-26). "Count Dankula GoFundMe: 'Nazi pug' man Mark Meechan raises £100,000 in bid to appeal court conviction". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  40. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (2018-08-08). "Count Dankula: Man who taught pug to do Nazi salute has appeal refused". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  41. ^ "Supreme Court appeal blocked for man in Pug Nazi salute case". BBC. 2019-01-22. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  42. ^ Count Dankula (June 17, 2020). Count Dankula Vs The United Kingdom - Taking My Country To Court. Retrieved June 17, 2020 – via YouTube.
  43. ^ Baynes, Chris (5 March 2019). "Man who taught girlfriend's pet pug to perform Nazi salute dropped from BBC series after backlash". The Independent. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  44. ^ "BBC airs documentary about the man who trained his dog to make a Nazi salute". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2019-08-04. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  45. ^ Mitchell, Hilary (2019-08-01). "Edinburgh Fringe hit back at 'Nazi Pug Man' Mark Meechan's claim he was banned from the festival". Edinburgh Live. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  46. ^ Count Dankula (June 16, 2018). UKIP Needs You – via YouTube.
  47. ^ Sommer, Will (26 June 2018). "Far-Right YouTube Stars Plan Takeover of UKIP". The Daily Beast.
  48. ^ Walker, Peter (29 June 2018). "Ukip's new guard: web agitators threaten to swamp struggling party". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  49. ^ Macdonald, Stuart (April 10, 2019). "'Nazi pug' YouTuber 'Count Dankula' says he's standing for Ukip in Euro election". Daily Mirror. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  50. ^ Wharton, Jane (April 11, 2019). "Man who trained dog to give Nazi salute says he'll stand for UKIP in Europe elections". Metro. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  51. ^ "Scotland's European election candidate lists in full". Holyrood. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  52. ^ "SNP increases MEPs amid Labour collapse". BBC News. 2019-05-27. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  53. ^ Count Dankula (November 11, 2019). Why I'm Leaving UKIP. Retrieved December 23, 2019 – via YouTube.
  54. ^ Meechan, Mark. "Well now". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 26 July 2020.

External links