Last week, Mark Meechan was sentenced to a £800 fine after he was previously found guilty of committing a hate crime.
The opinion-dividing Scot had published a video on YouTube featuring his girlfriend’s pet pug (not so aptly named Buddha) responding to anti-Semitic slurs.
He was found guilty under The Communications Act for posting the video, which was deemed “grossly offensive” due to its “anti-Semitic and racist nature”.
Meechan has said he plans to appeal the sentencing.
Comedian Ricky Gervais responded on Twitter, expressing his continued advocacy for free speech in comedy. The star of The Office had previously tweeted: ”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.”
On the day Meechan’s sentence was announced, Gervais retweeted this post:
— PanAm Post (@PanAmPost) April 23, 2018
When passing sentence, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll told Meechan: “A joke can be grossly offensive. 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.”
Here is the original podcast from Aaron and Steph, as they went Head2Head on this topic, featuring free speech, hate crime, and pug rights.
Head2Head – Episode 1
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(We are unable to link to examples of the original YouTube videos of Buddha the pug due to the potentially offensive material.)