Man is arrested after teaching dog to
give Nazi salute to annoy his girlfriend

Markus Meechan, 28, of Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire is evidently a bit daft, a bit of a prankster and has got himself into something of a regrettable situation for not thinking before he acts. This video made me cringe and *facepalm* in equal measure; but it seemed to me to be little more than a silly video, exceedingly crass, but silly nonetheless. I found myself wondering why you would upload this onto Youtube but even without knowing Mr Meechan it seems clear that he is just being a bit daft. I also have the benefit of hindsight.

His girlfriend dotes on her dog and treats it like a baby. Mr Meechan thought it would be hilarious to take this very cute dog and turn it into a demon by teaching it to raise his paw in a faux Nazi salute and respond to Hitlerite phrases.

“My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is, and so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing that I could think of, which is a Nazi.”

Now, it is perfectly clear that the video is tasteless but it is exceedingly important to put this into context. Mr Meechan obviously has a sense of humour somewhere between dark and silly. He uploaded the video onto Youtube for the benefit of his few followers who were his friends; it was essentially an in-joke for his girlfriend and friends who knew him and his sense of humour. From the title “M8 Yer Dugs a Nazi” to the front cover showing the pug with a Hitler style moustache the childish intention of the video is clear.

We can be certain that Mr Meechan was not expecting a visit from the police, to be arrested on suspicion of Hate Crime and to spend a night in the cells. He was released and a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal in relation to an alleged breach of the electronic communications act of 2003.

Jonathan Sacerdoti, Director of Communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: ‘There is nothing remotely funny about this video. ‘Mocking the death of over six million Jews – about a third of the entire Jewish people – demonstrates the dangers of ignoring antisemitism, denigrating the Holocaust through false comparisons and failing to educate the next generation.’

Now, I abhor anti-Semitism as with any racism (disclaimer alert); it is the reserve of the ignorant and irrational. It could not possibly be said that the video was sensitive to such understandable cultural anxieties and it is hardly satire. I can easily see how it might be misunderstood and cause offence but is Mr Meechan mocking the death of Jews in the Holocaust? I really don’t think he is. He is certainly not handling the subject sensitively or is, in a sense, making light of it – but he is not mocking the Holocaust or attacking Jewish people.

I can think of a many cheap jokes – from stand-up comedians to shows like Family Guy – that use jokes that could be accused of anti-Semitism. The video itself cannot be classed as satire but Mr Meechan is making light of Anti-Semitism itself as much as the Holocaust in teaching his dog to salute and respond to vile Hitlerite phrases just to annoy his girlfriend and makes hit mates chuckle.

I have to ask; what has been achieved by arresting and possibly charging him? Could those who reported to him not initially sent him a message expressing their concern and seeing how he responded to that? This just seems another example of over-zealous police arresting someone for being silly. Is the video inciting violence? Is it intended to incite hatred? I think it is clear that it does not have this intent; it is a stupid video of a dog. Unsurprisingly it is far from the only video/picture of a dog doing a Nazi salute on the internet.

Counterproductively the attention drawn to it has given the video global attention as it is reported on everywhere from the US to Israel – much to Mr Meechan’s surprise. He has now apologised:

He said: ‘I am not a racist at all, anybody who knows me could tell you that.

‘I’m freaked out because everyone’s going to actually think that I hate Jews now and I don’t at all. I’m kind of panicked about it.

‘Honestly, I don’t hate anyone, the whole purpose of this was just to annoy my girlfriend.

‘I just want everyone to know that I don’t wish any ill-will on any race or anything, it’s just how shock comedy works.

‘It was strictly made to annoy my girlfriend and give my friends something to laugh at.

‘I am so sorry to the Jewish community for any offence I have caused them. This was never my intention and I apologise.’

This has been blown all out of proportion. A daft prankster makes a silly video and ends up getting arrested and being given global attention. Will they never learn?

As usual it is the words of the Police that give cause for concern, having said the arrest should be a warning that “videos which cause offence will not be tolerated.”

‘This arrest should serve as a warning to anyone posting such material online, or in any other capacity, that such views will not be tolerated […] This clip has been shared and viewed online, which ultimately has caused offence and hurt to many people in our community.’

Videos that cause offence will not be tolerated. Such views will not be tolerated. I find this concerning; that a silly video should be considered a hate crime by virtue of the fact some people were offended and that its maker should be charged for it. Something being offensive is not in itself enough reason arrest someone, lock them in a cell for a night and possibly charge them and give them a permanent criminal record.

It is not exactly the kind of video you’d want to go to the wall defending in the name of “free speech” but it does seem to be bit much to come down with the full force of the law on him. Do they now have something better to do? I would advise the Police involved, and those who reported him, to be very careful about how exploring the internet, because there will spend every single day reporting and arresting people for offensive pictures, videos, forums; you name it.

This isn’t a hate crime; it’s just idiotic.

Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Web Editor.  He blogs at The Sceptic Isle. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty