On April 23 over 900 people gathered outside Downing Street in London and Airdrie Sheriff Court in Scotland to protest the guilty verdict of Mark Meechan (better known as Count Dankula on YouTube). His crime was uploading a video demonstrating his dog training skills where he taught his Pug to do a Nazi salute as a joke to aggravate his girlfriend.

This joke was intended for only 10 of his subscribers to see, but the video went viral and now has over three million views.

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This boost in popularity landed the Scottish comedian in trouble. Meechan was arrested, subjected to lengthy court proceedings and was branded "far right" and "Nazi." He was found guilty on March 20 and sentenced on April 23 when he was issued with a £800 ($1117) fine for being "Grossly offensive" under the Communications Act 2003 section 127.

The reaction

On March 20 Jewish comedian David Baddiel and Ricky Gervais came out to support of him. Gervais tweeted his opinion on comedy and Freedom Of Speech.

Nick Pettigrew from the New Statesman scolded Gervais in his article "No Ricky Gervais defending offensive sh*tposters isn't a matter of free speech." Pettigrew expressed a distaste for Meechan's video and his support from unfavorable characters such as Katie Hopkins, Alex Jones, and Tommy Robinson. He advised that he stop blocking people from his Twitter to demonstrate his support for freedom of speech instead.

Mainstream media either chose to state the facts or offer an opinion that showed a dislike for Meechan’s content but agreed he had a right to say what he wanted.

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Comment sections on mainstream media articles written by either left-leaning publications such as The Guardian and The Independent or the right-wing publications The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Breitbart echoed the same opinions as Gervais. It is very clear that judges, politicians and far left activists have no value for freedom of speech. However, regular people, regardless of their political affiliations, care deeply and therefore oppose sentencing Meechan.

For those working in alternative media, many were unsurprised by the guilty verdict after experiencing forms of censorship via Twitter bans and videos being demonetized on YouTube. YouTubers Lauren Southern, Chris Ray Gun, Jonathan Pie, and Milo are just a handful of people who made videos airing their concerns about the extent hate speech laws are violating human rights by pointing to Meechan's case as a prime example. One YouTuber who is particularly active in fighting against hate speech laws is Carl Benjamin ( better known as Sargon Of Akkad) who produced the most content defending his fellow YouTuber and performed speeches at the Protest.

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Reasons for the protest

Sargon of Akkad was joined by journalist Tim Pool at the protest on April 23. The night before, Tim made a video about a discussion with Sargon on the injustice of the case and concerns for the future. The main points below are taken from this discussion, other videos created by Sargon of Akkad, and those who protested at the event;

  • Under the Communications Act 2003 section 127, the terms of Hate speech are ill-defined and therefore leave people unaware of what is and what is not appropriate language. This causes a high probability of people being punished for breaking rules that they are unaware even existed.
  • Today everything is offensive to somebody.
  • Those in power can exploit these ill-defined terms to their advantage to punish those on the opposing side. The pendulum swings repeatedly in the game of politics and therefore creating weapons that will eventually end up in your opponent' hands is a dangerous action.
  • Count Dankula’s video only works on a comedic level because he mocks the Nazis, which would be a punishable offense under a Nazi regime.
  • A man from Finland also taught his dog to do the same trick by which actual Nazis were offended but they dropped the charges. By punishing Meechan the police are showing that they are more unreasonable than members of the Nazis.
  • Context is not taken into consideration which creates confusing boundaries for comedians and creative artists in Britain. Britain has produced top-rated comedians such as Billy Connolly, Frankie Boyle and the Monty Python crew who would all face fines and potential prison sentences for their work if performed today.
  • The judge sentencing Meechan was a known left-wing activist and has a history of being incompetent. The judge Derek O’Connell had convicted a homeless man under the firearms act for possession of a fluorescent, plastic toy gun.
  • There was no jury at the trial.
  • Currently, 4,000 people have been arrested for hate speech.
  • The cost of being issued with a criminal record affects future employment opportunities and travel plans. Should citizens face major consequences for minor crimes?
  • There is a fear that fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech are being stripped away from people under the guise of morality.
  • Environments that operate under morality guided regimes are undesirable. Sharia-compliant zones and the times of the Magdalene laundries demonstrate the horrors of being ruled by moral authority.
  • Many protesters sympathized with those who were offended by the video but agreed on punishment in the form of fines and imprisonment was not the answer. Those who oppose Hate Laws are not necessarily in favor of offending people or condone the opinions of those who say cruel things. They are individuals not willing to sacrifice freedom of speech in exchange for an unrealistic utopia where no one feels emotional pain.
  • What action will be taken for journalists who share and quote content that is deemed ‘offensive’? Will they be punished even if they express the politically correct opinions in relation to it the story?

What happened at the protest?

The protest was arranged by Liberalist UK.

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Some of the group organizers chose to march through the British capital with tape over their mouths and a sign saying "You wouldn’t tell a joke". They were followed by a diverse group of people who differed in race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, and nationality. They achieved a peaceful display complete with speeches in their aim to show the government that their citizens do not support these hate speech laws.

YouTuber Ashton Whitty traveled from America to be at the protest. She explained in an interview with Tim Pool that her reasons for being there were to show Americans how lucky they are that they have the first amendment and urges them to do the everything to protect it.

Scotland at the moment

On April 10 a six million "Scotland is Now" campaign was launched to advertise the wonders of Scotland to the world. It currently has an alarming like 2.7K to 1.9K dislike ratio. Indicating that there is a growing distaste for the country.

YouTube videos mocked the "Be greater than a hater’" campaign that was issued a day before Count Dankula's case surfaced online. This provoked questions like is Scotland still the land of the free? When are they not free to make a joke, is Scotland still the land of the brave? After all, they have laws that protect them from hurt feelings.

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