He says he was just trying to annoy his girlfriend; a Scottish court decided in March it qualified as a hate crime. Now, Markus Meechan will have to pay roughly $1,100 over the video he posted in April 2016 that showed his girlfriend's pug making a Nazi-like salute. The BBC reports the video, titled "M8 Yer Dugs a Nazi," was viewed more than 3 million times. In it, Meechan repeatedly asks his girlfriend's dog, Buddha, if the pug wants to "gas the Jews" in what appears to be an attempt to get him to react to the phrase, and teaches him to raise his paw to the command "Sieg Heil." Sheriff Derek O'Carroll, who issued the fine, didn't buy the 30-year-old's excuse, and Sky News reports he also noted that Meechan's girlfriend wasn't a subscriber to the YouTube channel he posted to.
"The fact that you claim in the video, and elsewhere, that the video was intended only to annoy your girlfriend … is of little assistance to you," O'Carroll said. "A racist joke or a grossly offensive video does not lose its racist or grossly offensive quality merely because the maker asserts he only wanted to get a laugh." Meechan disagreed, saying context mattered: "This is a really dangerous precedent to set—for people to say things and their context to be completely ignored and then they can be convicted for it." He says he'll appeal. The BBC notes Ricky Gervais tweeted a take in line with Meechan's last month: "A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed 'grossly offensive.' 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." Gervais followed up with a joke of his own Monday: "Can't believe the pug got off scot-free." (Read more YouTube stories.)