YouTube comic Markus Meechan, better known as Count Dankula, is refusing to pay the £800 fine handed to him by the courts for a ‘grossly offensive’ joke, donating the money to Glasgow Children’s Hospital instead.
The Scotsman was handed the fine for uploading a comedy skit which shows him trying to turn his girlfriend’s pug dog Buddha into the “least cute thing that I could think of, which is a Nazi”.
After a trial without a jury which dragged on for more than two years, Judge Derek O’Carroll concluded that the video was “grossly offensive” — a crime under the Communications Act which could have resulted in a prison sentence.
Oh dear, I went to pay my fine and my finger must have slipped.
Silly me. pic.twitter.com/uRZs1mhoil
— Count Dankula🏴 (@CountDankulaTV) April 30, 2018
Meechan, who insists he is not anti-Semitic, regularly mocks the alt-right, and considers himself a “centre-left libertarian”, has vowed he will not pay the fine, which he sees as an affront to freedom of speech.
The Scotsman enjoys considerable public support, with a fundraiser for an appeal to “nuke [his conviction] from orbit” smashing its £100,000 target in less than a day.
Explaining why it is important to overturn the conviction, Meechan explains that it will be used as “an example to convict other people over the things they say and the jokes they make, [setting] a standard where courts will be able to willfully ignore the context and intent of a person’s words and actions in order to punish them and brand them as criminals”.
The fundraiser is now approaching £160,000, still less than a week after its launch — with Meechan promising that any leftover money will be donated to charity.
— Graham Linehan (@Glinner) April 27, 2018
Meechan’s conviction has been opposed by some mainstream comedians, including The Office creator Ricky Gervais, satirist Tom Walker — better known as Jonathan Pie — and Jewish comic David Baddiel.
Others have welcomed the conviction enthusiastically, however, such as comedy writer Graham Linehan, who has appealed to GoFundMe to shut down Meechan’s legal fundraiser several times on social media.
Meechan’s supporters have highlighted a number of controversial jokes in Lineham’s own shows, including an episode of Father Ted which made heavy use of Nazi imagery and featured a racist impression of a Chinese person.