Folks who comment about rights and political-economics in various countries are often told something they already know: Great Britain does not have a First Amendment to stop government from trampling on the right of free speech.
And while this is true, and well known, it should not be used as a tool to excuse, condone, or in any way mitigate what is happening in the United Kingdom right now: which is that the UK government is engaged in the most intense attack on freedom of expression in nearly a century.
Case in point: over the past year, a popular YouTube commentator and satirist, a Scotsman named Mark Meechan whose YouTube pseudonym is Count Dankula, has suffered loss of income and endured questions about his future as the British government assailed him with prosecution over a joke video he made to annoy his girlfriend.
In the video, he taught her pet pug to lift his paw when he said things like “Hitler” and spoke about the activities in the death camps. At the intro to the video, Dankula pointed out that he wasn’t racist at all, that, in fact, he was about as inclusive as anyone could imagine, and that he was doing this to needle his girlfriend by taking the cutest thing he knew, the pug, and making it look like “the least cute thing that I could think of, which is a Nazi.”
No one asked Youtube to remove the video.
He was promptly arrested by Scottish authorities working under the auspices of UK “hate crime” law.
That was over a year ago.
After multiple delays when the judge saw large crowds of supporters gathering at the courthouse and, evidently, wanted to dilute that support, Meechan was convicted on March 20, to be sentenced to between two and six months in prison for, get this, being “grossly offensive”. Here’s what Oliver JJ Lane reported for Breitbart:
Scottish YouTube personality Count Dankula — real name Mark Meechan — was found guilty at Glasgow Sherrif Court Tuesday of a hate crime, and potentially faces two months in prison after recording a video of his girlfriend’s dog doing Nazi salutes. Reporting from inside the courtroom, journalist and street organiser Tommy Robinson said Meechan had been found guilty of being “Grossly Offensive” under the Communications Act of 2003.
Said Meechan to reporters after the verdict:
While awaiting sentencing, Court has ordered that I meet with a court social worker for an assessment as to whether or not a Restriction Of Liberty Order will be placed on me. This would involve a GPS tracking device being attached to me and me being placed under house arrest.
And he astutely observed:
I think it is a very, very dark day in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Dankula is a titanic hero for free speech, and he should not have to be a martyr. No one should ever have to be a martyr to the state for an opinion he or she expresses. Yet Meechan now could go to prison, and, as he wisely noted, others in the UK had better watch their words.
Many politicians in the United Kingdom and its fiefdoms are on their knees groveling to political correctness, and using police-state tactics to crush dissent – the kind of individualist, small-government or anti-state dissent that harkens back to the very names that helped establish England and its satellites as the source for the Enlightenment that gave rise to the American Bill of Rights. These are names like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Adam Smith, and today, they are being subsumed by the block-headed thinking and political commands of people like Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Kahn.
Just last year, May single-handedly threw together a new “team” that she plans to have the power to shut down speech and websites on the net, all based on their opinions that there is a thread of hatred in the content.
And just this month, London Mayor Sadiq Kahn was invited by the social justice warriors who evidently now run the South By Southwest Arts Festival in Austin, Texas, to talk about his intention to force internet companies like Facebook and Twitter to police speech and remove “hateful” speech, or else he will make sure they are fined.
Just glancing at the practical impossibility and literal danger of allowing the state to define “hate” in expression is revealing. For example, if Dankula’s video (most of his are very funny and insightful) is to be policed and the state can put him in prison for it, what do Brits make of John Cleese mimicking Hitler in Fawlty Towers, one of the most iconic British comedies in the nation’s history?
What about the “Mr. Hilter” skit from Monty Python?
It’s hard to doubt that if those titanic talents had released those skits today, the Pythons would be up on charges and facing jail time.
This is where the UK stands – or, rather, kneels – today. The culture that spearheaded the move to defend free speech and individual rights is supplicating before the false idol of social justice and indefinable “hate,” to be policed by agents of the state.
One of the wittiest and most honest satirists in Scotland faces jail time right now because of it.
While politicians like May and Kahn eat off the backs of him and his taxes.