As it turns out, Scotland does not play around when it comes to hate speech, “jokes” or not.
A 30-year-old man was recently convicted of committing a hate crime after he filmed his girlfriend’s dog giving Nazi salutes, as well as responding to statements such as “gas the Jews,” the BBC reports.
Mark Meechan filmed his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to “Sieg heil!” by raising its paw while watching Hitler on TV. The video, which was posted online in 2016 and has been viewed 3 million times since, also shows Meechan asking Buddha, “Do you want to gas some Jews?”
Meechan insists it was just a joke meant to piss off his girlfriend, but authorities did not find it so funny. Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the U.K.’s Communications Act, calling the video “grossly offensive.”
“The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand,” O’Carroll said, according to the BBC. “This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.”
O’Carroll noted that Meechan was “quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man.”
“The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive,” he added. “Despite that, the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content, and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.”
Meechan’s defense attorney, Ross Brown, noted that his client only intended for a small group of people to see the video, adding that the material had been leaked and gone viral.
“His girlfriend testified that Mr. Meechan had never made known to her any anti-Semitic views whatsoever,” Brown said. “The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views. His girlfriend is in no doubt it was an example of his sense of humor.”