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Having actually stood on stages and deliberately crossed what would be deemed as the line of acceptance to many today, just to get laughs out of people: I fully understand the grave concerns among the comedic community in regards to a judgement made against Count Dankula, where he was found guilty of hate crime for apparently teaching his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute on a YouTube video whilst he recited “Sieg Heil” and “gas the jews”.
The guy is a Vlogger who posts videos to gain a reaction from people, it is what he does and yes it may well be distasteful humour but it is solely intended as humour and should have been treated as such. In comedy there is this unwritten rule that no one can actually give offence, people either choose to take offence or they don’t but sadly today we now live in a society where some people simply cannot wait to take offence, so that they can get their daily fix of waving their outrage flags and condemning anyone who has actually managed to retain a sense of humour. It has been a dangerous road we have been heading down for quite some time.
As the video in question actually had over 3 million views, thankfully there are still a lot of people out there that do have a sense of humour or at least the commonsense not to take offence at something that was so obviously nothing more than a joke, with the actual context of the joke being a little dog supposedly doing a Nazi salute. It wasn’t really, it’s a dog and does not have a clue what a Nazi salute actually is but what is extremely worrying about all of this is the fact that a judge actually found him guilty and in doing so he set a very dangerous precedent in law that basically means context is now irrelevant. This means in law, it now no longer really matters what you meant, it is how others may wrongly perceive what you meant that could land you in trouble and that is not only going to have an extremely detrimental consequence on the world of comedy but it is also a direct affront on all of our rights to free speech and expression.
It is hard to imagine a world where you not only have to worry about what you say in public but you now also have to worry about how your words or actions could be misinterpreted by others in fear of falling foul with the law. I for one hope some decent minded barrister gets in touch with Markus Meechan to appeal his case pro-bono to ensure this precedent is removed because it has far deeper implications than someone being offended about a cute dog on a YouTube video and it seems clear the to me that the judge either paid little attention to the precedent being set in this case or was actually fully aware but simply didn’t care. A far better precedent to set and make clear to everyone is that no one has the right not to be offended, especially as people choose to take offence when it is so much easier to simply ignore things that they don’t like.
It does seem that freedom of speech is certainly under attack in this country and this is something that we all need to defend, whilst we still have a voice to do so. I am somewhat surprised at the silence from the comedy world over this matter, though Ricky Gervais and a couple of others have spoken out about it, the vast majority by far have decided to sit in silence.