March 21 (UPI) — A Scottish court found a Youtuber guilty of hate speech after he taught his dog to mimic a Nazi salute when he said “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil.”
Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found Mark Meecham, 30, guilty of a charge under the Communications Act for posting the video, which was found to be “anti-Semitic and racist in nature” and aggravated by religious prejudice, the BBC reported.
“In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive,” O’Carroll said. “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.”
Meecham, who has denied any wrongdoing, will be sentenced on April 23.
The Scottish Youtube personality posted the video in 2016 and was arrested last year. In the video, Meecham said he wanted to play a prank on his girlfriend by teaching her pug a Nazi salute.
“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,” Meecham said in the video.
The video goes on to show brief clips of Meecham training the dog, with little success. Eventually, the dog raises its paw to its chest level when Meecham says, “Sieg Heil.”
After the verdict, Meecham, who goes by the moniker “Count Dankula” online, found support from popular comedians, including Rickey Gervais and Jim Norton.
“A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed ‘grossly offensive,'” Gervais tweeted. “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.”
“If the courts really wanted to punish @CountDankulaTV, they’d book his dog on a [United Airlines] flight,” Norton said.