July 3rd, 2017 – A Scottish YouTuber now finds his legal troubles mounting as he struggles to pay for representation in his impending hate crime charge. Markus Meechan, who goes by the online alias of “Count Dankula,” has been pulling stunts online for many years but it was a trick he taught his girlfriend’s pug that has landed him in the legal doghouse.
Last year, Meechan uploaded a video of the pug raising its paw in response to Nazi instructions (such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil”) and footage of Hitler delivering a speech. The YouTube post is called “M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi,” and Meechan’s describes the stunt by explaining:
“My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute her dog is so I thought I would turn her into the least cute thing you could think of which is a Nazi.”
The trick did not earn Meechan a treat from authorities; instead he was arrested in April of 2016. He is now facing a year in prison if found guilty and has most recently shared that he was denied legal aid. Gaining legal aid would have assisted in legal costs including the costs of getting legal advice from a solicitor, information on your rights and help with negotiations and paperwork.
Shortly after those tweets, Meechan shared a link to the crowdfunding site YouCaring where Richard Lewis (Esports Host & Contributing Editor for Turner Sports) created one for the embattled comedian. He’s currently raised £17,342 out of the of £12,000 goal.
“The point of the video seems to have been overlooked. He wanted a “cute” dog to be subverted. The intent was to show the Nazi ideology as being reprehensible. It also shouldn’t need to be said that the idea of a dog embracing the Nazi idelogy is absurd. Mocking the Nazis, has been a staple of modern comedy. Through ridicule the power of hate groups is diminished,” the page reads.
“Meechan himself has openly spoken out about racism and all forms of prejudice through social media. His is a joke gone horribly wrong. He has apologised for the video, removed the offending content and communicated with members of the Jewish community to educate himself about why his video could be perceived to be insensitive. He is no anti-Semite. He is a comedian who wanted to explore boundaries. Even if you find the joke distasteful, hopefully you can agree that a joke in poor taste doesn’t warrant anyone being sent to jail.”
Meechan has earned the support of some high profile champions of free speech.