Scottish Man Arrested After Teaching Dog To Give Nazi Salute

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 7.43.09 PMThere is another bizarre free speech case out of Europe. This case involves a 28-year-old man in Coatbridge Scotland who taught his pug to give a Nazi salute to a screen showing Adolph Hitler. He was arrested after posting a video for hate speech.

Markus Meechan is shown encouraging his pug, Buddha, with repeated calls to “gas the Jews.” The dog is then seen lifting its paw to the television. The video of the dog, a pug named Buddah, shows it responding the words “Sieg Heil.” Meehan is heard saying “My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute her dog is so I thought I would turn her into the least cute thing you could think of which is a Nazi.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said:

“A 28-year-old man was arrested on Thursday 28 April in relation to the alleged publication of offensive material online (improper use of electronic communications under the Communications Act 2003). . . . Posting offensive material online or in any other capacity will not be tolerated and police will act swiftly to tackle hate crimes that are motivated by malice or ill-will because of faith, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

This clip has been shared and viewed online, which ultimately has caused offence and hurt to many people in our community. There is no place for hate crime in Scotland and police take all reports of incidents seriously.”

As grotesque as this video tape is, many civil libertarians fear the rapid erosion of free speech protections under standards that criminalize speech that reflects such nebulous standards as “ill-will” or deemed offensive to any group.

I have long been a critic of the criminalization of symbols and gestures, even deeply offensive symbols like Nazi gestures. Europe has plunged into speech regulation and criminalization – showing that such laws create a slippery slope for the criminalization of unpopular speech. This course inevitably leads to increasing — and increasingly absurd — speech crimes. For example, I fail to see how arresting a man for a Hitler ringtone is achieving a meaningful level of deterrence, even if you ignore the free speech implications.

The problem is trying to draw such lines rather than embracing free speech as protecting not just popular but unpopular and even hateful speech. Once you start as a government to criminalize speech, you end up on a slippery slope of censorship. What constitutes hate speech remains a highly subjective matter and we have seen a steady expansion of prohibited terms and words and gestures. We have been following (here and here and and and here and and here and here) the worsening situation in England concerning free speech. As noted in a recent column, free speech appears to be dying in the West with the increasing criminalization of speech under discrimination, hate, and blasphemy laws.

The statement would suggest that this might have been a joke and not intended as support for the Nazis or the holocaust. Yet, under the standard, the motivation of the words is not determinative if it is offensive (despite the police reference to malice). Of course, I do not know if this man is a serious Nazi or just trying to torment his girlfriend, but it should not matter. Even if he was some sick Scot with a desire for a Nazi pug, it remains free speech in my view.

What do you think?

21 thoughts on “Scottish Man Arrested After Teaching Dog To Give Nazi Salute”

  1. Even if he was some sick Scot with a desire for a Nazi pug, it remains free speech in my view. What do you think?

    Of course it’s free speech. The mystery is why the government is focusing on an offensive but harmless joke while real anti-Semitic threats are ignored. I guess it’s not really a mystery since we know the answer.

  2. I thought it was funny.

    Also, not a real Nazi salute. The dog didn’t click his heels first. All the guy did was teach him an abridged ‘paw’ with ‘seig heil’ replacing the command.

  3. We need a six-foot-eight, 280-pound Jewish-American to go over and kick that mental midget’s face in. Other than that, Prof. Turley’s comment sums it up:

    “The problem is trying to draw such lines rather than embracing free speech as protecting not just popular but unpopular and even hateful speech. Once you start as a government to criminalize speech, you end up on a slippery slope of censorship.”

    If we try to define hate speech in terms of prosecuting crime, it is analogous to the subjectivity in defining obscene speech, which reminds me of Justice Potter Stewart:

    “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” – J. Potter Stewart (1964).

    Cops are supposed to know the standard for probable cause to arrest someone for hate speech? Cops are burdened enough with their jobs, let alone requiring that they be less arbitrary than a Supreme Court Justice.

  4. I have got to teach my dog to do a nazi salute whenever I say “heil Trump!”

  5. Funny as hell.

    The Euro cops are beyond shadow of a doubt criminals involved in the suppression of free speech, kidnapping, and extortion. These cops need to spend some time in the clink for their REAL crimes.

  6. Who is the Chancellor of Scotland? Heil Scotty!

    Dogs cannot be involved in politics.

    Free Speech For Dogs.org

    Hitler is long gone. If he was a muslim I would agree with the prosecution.

  7. Charlie Chaplin would have love to have this dog in his movie “The Dictator”.

  8. Well, my helmet is most certainly off to the men and women under Cockburn’s command for their quick apprehension of this prick and his pug. However after viewing the photo, it would appear that the seriousness of this Offence has yet to take hold with the pug.

  9. “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” Thomas Paine

    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. ” –George Orwell

    “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”
    George Santayana

  10. Chinggis say prosecution should not give anyone paws. Chinggis think Floda Reltih’s views are backwards. Indict dog for conspiracy. Then throw dog in pound. That cause British pound to decrease in value. Then after they nail the pound they can pound nails and build wall to keep out Trump.

  11. Floda Reltih says

    Clearly he was enticing this Nazi dog into repeating the holocaust!

    ROTFLOL Hahahahaahaahaaaaaa.

  12. Really? Not directing at someone? Jews are not “someone”?. Clearly he was enticing this Nazi dog into repeating the holocaust! I am glad he will be arrested for his beliefs…

  13. It is certainly understandable how a dog can be unwittingly taught to make a display of allegiance to a statist figurehead, especially one who epitomizes violence. What is more shocking, however, is how easy it is and why we should desire to indoctrinate humans, when they are children, to declare their allegiance to principles of violence in order to maintain the most dangerous superstition, the superstition that the idea of the state is so virtuous and necessary that we should excuse the initiation of aggression, force, theft, and murder in order to maintain it.

  14. The statute says the offensive material has to be “motivated by malice or ill will.” That is not the case here. It seems like an immature, insensitive guy just trying to teach his girlfriend’s dog a stupid trick in order to annoy her. And the dog doesn’t know or care what a Nazi salute is.

  15. I do not think it qualifies as hate speech. Hate speech has to be directed at someone and that does not seem to be his intent.

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