Monday, 26 March 2018

A Nazi dog?

Last week a Scottish court found Mark Meechan guilty of making a "grossly offensive" joke. The court will issue its sentence next month.

Meechan, known as Count Dankula on YouTube, posted a video of his girlfriend's dog, which he had taught to raise its paw, as though making a Nazi salute, in response to him saying, "Zeig Heil!"

According to Meechan, teaching the dog this trick was intended as a joke. He claims that his girlfriend dotes on the dog and this was some kind of response to her being more affectionate towards the dog than him. If this strikes you as stupid behaviour - I can only agree. However, we do not criminalise people for being stupid.

More to the point, Meechan has an excellent defence. It is called freedom of expression. And it is a fundamental, universal human right. That's the defence, and the only defence, he should have offered. He should have made the complainant, the police, the prosecutors and the judge all explicitly take the position that he does not have the right to freedom of expression, which is of course tacitly exactly their position.

Meechan's case is important. Not because of Meechan, the dog, the video, Nazis or anti-Semitism, but because the right to freedom of expression is under constant attack. Ironically, that attack is being led by people who self identify as liberals; a political philosophy that puts individual rights, and especially the right to freedom of expression, at its heart.

Contemporary liberalism is anything but liberal. It is in fact totalitarian, and demands that everyone thinks precisely the same thoughts and say the same things. Any dissent is immediately construed as immoral and even, as in this case, as criminal. When people are not free to think and speak as they wish, there is no freedom for anyone.

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