Mark Meechan, commonly known as Count Dankula, has been convicted for hate speech and is awaiting sentencing which will be served in late-April this year.
This is part of a long running saga which started in 2016 with the upload of a video to his YouTube channel entitled “M8 Yur Dugs A Nazi“. The video showed him training his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, into mimicking a Roman salute when he said “Heil” and getting him excited when the term “Jews” was uttered. A Jewish Council in his home nation of Scotland felt it was hate speech, declaring it to be anti-Semitic and showing hatred to their religion. It was at this point where the Scottish Police got involved. This despite Dankula stating in the video that he dislikes Nazis and created it as a practical joke to annoy his girlfriend.
Sheriff Derek O’ Carrol delivered his sentence, declaring the video to be threatening, grossly offensive and anti-Semitic. Meechan was consequently found guilty of sending by “means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.
The trial had previously heard, Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) talking of his own family’s tragic history regarding the holocaust and warning against hate speech. “I’m no historian but it is the marching signal of the Nazi storm troopers who contributed and supported the murder of six million Jews including members of my own family and I take this all slightly personally. Material of this kind goes to normalise the anti-Semitic views that frankly we thought we had seen the last of. The Holocaust is not a subject for jocular content.”
Despite the Jewish community in Scotland numbering just 6,000 (in the last UK Census), a mere 0.11% of the population, the stick of anti-Semitism through the guise of hate speech appears to be just as potent an instrument of censorship and intimidation there, as anywhere else.
This verdict comes on the heels of the recent repeal of Scotland’s Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, a flagship bill passed by the then majority SNP Government to tackle sectarianism in Scotland. The bill was deemed to unfairly target football fans, treating them as 2nd class citizens and was widely criticized at the time as illiberal and an attack on free speech. The ambiguous wording and subjective nature of the bill led to it being declared as “the worst piece of legislation in the history of the Scottish Parliament”, by James Kelly, the MSP whose own bill essentially scrapped it 5 days ago.
One wonders if the same criticisms could also apply to the Communications Act of 2003 used to convict Meechan today. What constitutes a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character? Indeed, how can such a subjective matter be written unambiguously in law? If free speech to one person can be considered hate speech by another, how can such a subjective law be just, let alone objectively enforced?
A recent #NewScots campaign was launched by the Scottish Government in January to provide education, housing, healthcare and employment to refugees while helping them settle into the community and share their skills. With Scotland having met its commitment of accepting 2,000 of the UK’s Syrian refugees a mere 2 years into a 5 year plan, the intent to ramp up immigration to Scotland is evident for all to see.
Could it be that this recent clamp down on free speech in Scotland is to disarm the Scottish public of any form of dissent against the same people who have rampaged and raped their way through much of Europe? One thing is for sure, if freedom of speech was on thin ice in Scotland before today, it has just smashed through it, and no-ones coming to rescue it.