A year ago, Scottish YouTube comedian Markus Meechan AKA Count Dankula uploaded a video to YouTube of himself teaching his girlfriend’s dog to be a Nazi. The conceit of the video was to play a prank on his girlfriend by having her pug, Buddha, learn to do tricks to the sound of offensive Nazi slogans, like “gas the jews” and “seig heil.”
The video went viral, receiving millions of views and landing on the front page of Reddit. Most people laughed at the joke and did not interpret it as supportive of Nazi values. But the Scottish police were not amused.
A month after Meechan posted the video, police arrived at his door and threw him in jail for the night. He will appear before a judge on Monday facing a hate crime charge with a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He has also lost multiple jobs as a result of the video. Meechan could become the first Scottish comedian to be jailed for a joke.
“I think everything can and should be joked about,” Meechan told Heat Street over the phone. “I’m still trying to find the humor in it, laughter just makes it easier to deal with.”
Meechan said he fears the judge will try to make an example of him because of the amount of attention the case drew from the British press. His trial will have no jury and his sentencing is entirely up to the judge’s discretion.
“I’ve seen this happen before when people get dragged through the media.” he said. “The judge says ‘let’s completely fuck up this one person’s life so no one does it again.'”
Meechan’s situation closely mirrors the recent “anti-semitism” controversy with the YouTuber Pewdiepie. Pewdiepie made a similar style joke, using an anti-semitic phrase as shock humor to make a different comedic point.
Interesting enough, Pewdiepie was based in Brighton, England when he made the joke, but was not charged with a crime despite living under similar United Kingdom hate crime laws.
Scotland’s history of sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics made the police hyper responsive to verbal attacks on religion, more so than in England and Wales.
Scotland is so horrifically PC,” Meechan said. “If you have a hate crime charge most companies won’t hire you.”
Despite Scotland’s absurdly strict hate crime laws, major Scottish comedians are not given the same treatment as small time YouTubers.
In 2010 comedian Frankie Boyle had to apologize after describing the Palestine situation as a “a cake being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.” Boyle was not arrested for the joke.
“If Frankie Boyle got arrested people would be fucking furious and the police would not have any public support,” Meechan said.
He added that he believes the fact he is a YouTuber makes him an easier target for both the police and the media.
This the crime they want to send a man to jail for.
— Ritualist (@Ritualist_dA) May 19, 2017
The group leading the charge against Meechan is the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. At the time of his arrest in 2016 the group called the video “outrageous” and dismissed the idea it could possibly be taken as a joke.
Heat Street reached out to the council and asked if they believe Meechan deserved jail time for the video, but they declined to comment.
In a recent video, Meechan explained that many Jewish fans from outside Scotland had reached out to him and asked to write letters vouching for that Meechan is not an anti-semite. But unfortunately only the opinion of Scottish Jews could be submitted used in court.
Both Scottish comedians and the YouTube community are supporting Meechan through this situation.
— BaneFlame (@The0therDan) May 16, 2017
SkepTorr is a Jewish Israeli YouTuber and friend of Meechan and found the police response to the Nazi pug video ridiculous.
“No one in his sane mind would watch his material on Youtube and come to the conclusion that he committed a hate crime.” SkepTorr said. “[Many Israelis and Jews] do not like false flagging. It makes us look really bad and just creates resentment towards us.”
In general Meechan has received support online and in public. People have even approached him to take selfies.
However, one time he said his alcoholic neighbor called him a “Nazi bastard” and threw a bin of dog shit at his door. In an ironic twist and further proof of the Orwellian nightmare that is Scotland, when police arrived they arrest his neighbor, not for throwing dog shit at his door (a crime she admitted to) but for a hate crime because she called him a Nazi bastard.
If the trial goes badly, Meechan has considered applying for asylum in the U.S. In March, the United States granted asylum to a Singaporean YouTuber who was thrown in jail for a video where he humped the Quran. Meechan figures he may have a shot at a similar deal.
“I don’t want to live in a dystopia with gulags full of people arrested for wrongthink,” Meechan said. “I know that sounds extreme but we’re on that path. No opinion should be banned or illegal.”
Meechan is still together with his girlfriend Sou, through the controversy and media attention, and their pug Buddha is still a raging anti-semite.