Mark Meechan

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Mark Meechan
Count Dankula
Meechan in a YouTube video in January 2020.
Personal information
Born Markus Meechan
1987/1988 (age 33–34)
Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Nationality Scottish
Occupation YouTuber, Comedian & Political Activist
YouTube information
Pseudonym Count Dankula
Years active 2015–present
Subscribers 790 thousand (Count Dankula)
210 thousand (Count Dankula 2)
Total views 109 million (Count Dankula)
11 million (Count Dankula 2)
Mark Meechan
Subscriber and view counts updated as of December 26, 2020.

Markus Meechan (born 1987/1988)[1] is a Scottish YouTuber, originally from Coatbridge.[2][3] Known online as Count Dankula, he received press coverage when he posted a satiric video of a dog raising its paw in the manner of a Nazi salute.[4][5][6][7] Meechan was subsequently arrested and later convicted following a trial of being "grossly offensive" under the Communications Act 2003 in March 2018. This arrest generated controversy and discussions about free speech.[8][9] In April 2018, Meechan was sentenced to a fine of £800.[10][11]

Court Case

In April 2016, Meechan posted a video of his girlfriend's pet pug Buddha titled "M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi".[12] At the start of the video, he says: "My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi."[5] In the video, the dog is seen raising his right paw in the manner of a Nazi salute when prompted by the command "Sieg Heil," as well as watching a speech by Adolf Hitler and responding to the words "gas the Jews."[4][5] It ends with images of Adolf Hitler and Buddha depicted with a toothbrush moustache similar to the one Hitler sported.

Meechan was subsequently arrested on suspicion of breaching the Communications Act 2003.[13] On 19 March 2018, Meechan was convicted of breaching the act by Sheriff Derek O'Carroll at Airdrie Sheriff Court.[14] The court ruled that Meechan's claim that the video was a joke intended for his girlfriend "lacked credibility" as Meechan's girlfriend did not subscribe to the YouTube channel to which the video was posted.[8][14] According to independent journalist Lauren Southern who attended the trial, the crown prosecutor accused Meechan of attempting to incite genocide against the Jews.[15] On 23 April 2018, Meechan was sentenced to a fine of £800, with no prison sentence.[11] Approximately 500 people gathered in London to protest for free speech when the sentence was handed out.[16]

Following Meechan's conviction, British comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel had made comments supporting Meechan.[8][13][17][18] Others who opposed the prosecution of Meechan included Kenan Malik, Tim Blair, Helen Dale, Douglas Murray, Tom Walker, Shappi Khorsandi and Stephen Fry.[25] Swedish YouTube comedian PewDiePie also supported Meechan.[26] Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg stated that the right to free expression must include the right to offend, "otherwise the freedom is meaningless."[11]

Graham Linehan, creator of the sitcom Father Ted, condemned Meechan, who responded by saying that Linehan's show also contained Nazi-related jokes.[27] Meechan was scrutinised for embracing support from right-wing figures Alex Jones and Tommy Robinson, to which he replied: "Imagine totally abandoning protecting human rights, just because someone you don't like is defending them too. Astounding."[27] On 6 May 2018, Meechan spoke at the Day for Freedom rally organized by Robinson.[28][29][30][31]

UKIP Member of the European Parliament for Scotland David Coburn released a two-page statement condemning the ruling as "an embarrassment."[32] Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, brought up Meechan's case in the House of Commons and said: "Can we have a debate about freedom of speech in this country – something this country has long held dear and is in danger of throwing away needlessly?"[33]

Despite public attention, Sheriff O'Carroll noted that there were only "very limited" submission from the defence and the prosecution on the matter of the law as it regards freedom of expression and that because of this the trial was "concerned, ultimately, only with the narrow fact-based question of whether the Crown has proved beyond reasonable doubt that your using a public communications network on one day to post the video onto your video channel, constituted an offence contrary to section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003"[34] and that the ruling sets no precedent.[14]

Meechan started a GoFundMe campaign on 24 April 2018 to raise £100,000 for an appeal and reached his goal as of 25 April.[35] In August 2018, Meechan announced that his request for an appeal had been denied by a member of the Sheriff Appeal Court who also accused Meechan's lawyer of contempt. The letter stated that the appeal was "not arguable" due to the nature of the "deeply unpleasant offence." Meechan stated that he plans to contest the matter with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.[36][37] Meechan's lawyer Dorothy Bain subsequently petitioned the High Court of Justiciary to hear the case. Senior judge Lord Carloway opined that the High Court did not have the power to grant an appeal denied by the Sheriff Court.[38]

Meechan decided before the sentencing that he would refuse to participate in any punishment, whether fines or community service, because he felt he had done nothing wrong. He read a statement to the judge to this effect and was surprised that he was not sentenced to prison as a result of the statement.[39] He never paid his fine, instead donating the sum to Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity,[40] and was expecting that this too would eventually mean a prison sentence.[37] However, on 21 March 2019 he noticed that the sum had been seized directly from his bank account.[41]

Personal Life

Meechan states that he studied video game design in college, but after graduating found this useless for employment. He worked in call centers and later in private security before finding himself unemployable for two years due to the controversy around the Nazi pug video.[42][43]

On 17 March 2021 Meechan became the father to a girl named Sadie.[44][45]

Meechan enjoys sharing photographs of his testicles. On 22 April 2021 he posted a photo on Twitter of popular American singer Nicky Minaj which had been edited so that his testicles were juxtaposed with her buttocks. The scrotum had been given feminine features including eyes, a mouth, and blushing cheeks in a style he described as "kawaii."[46][47] On 24 May 2021 he reported that he had sold an NFT of his testicles for $7,703.45.[48] However, on 21 January 2021 he noted that "when you post your balls to tens of thousands of people because you think it's funny, those tens of thousands of people respond by sending you their own balls," which he did not appreciate.[49]

Politics

On 16 June 2018, Meechan announced that he had joined UKIP along with fellow YouTubers Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson in what Watson describes as an attempted "soft coup."[50][51][52] BBC Scotland planned to feature Meechan in a 2019 debate program called The Collective and had him film two episodes. However, the network announced that these episodes would not be aired after facing backlash over this decision.[53]

On September 21 2018 Meechan delivered a speech to a UKIP conference on the topic of threats to free speech in the UK. He covered cases of people who were visited by the police over allegedly offensive speech and argued that such behavior provokes public contempt for the police and the state.[54][55]

In April 2019, Meechan said he intends to stand for MEP on behalf of UKIP in the upcoming 2019 Elections to the European Parliament. His campaign is contingent on the UK holding the elections which is uncertain given the state of Brexit.[56][57] He was named fourth on UKIP's list in Scotland.[58]

On 11 November 2019 Meechan posted a video to YouTube explaining his reasoning for leaving UKIP. While he praised some of its membership, including former leaders Gerard Batten and Richard Braine, he felt that the party was crippled by infighting, including efforts by "bad elements" to purge other members. In his view UKIP is no longer effective at advancing Brexit, and no other UK party offers a vehicle to advance free speech.[59]

Meechan characterizes himself as a "nationalist, but not a white nationalist" as well as a libertarian, and believes that "people should be free to do whatever they want as long as they're not infringing on the rights of others." On July 25 2020 he announced he had joined the Scottish Libertarian party.[60] He supports stronger border control but opposes both a complete moratorium on immigration and any deportation of legal immigrants.[61] He describes himself as "a staunch advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of expression,"[62] has stated that "freedom of speech is an absolute,"[63] and advocates for a Constitution to be introduced in the UK which would include free speech provisions similar to the First Amendment in the US.[62][54]

Meechan as a teenage communist.

Meechan states that he was involved in communist groups such as the Young Communist League and the Communist Party of Britain[64] in the past. He initially became interested in communism due to a history teacher he had as a teenager, who presented a rosy picture of the Russian Revolution. He was also sympathetic to the interests of the working class, and reports that workers initially populated the communist groups he was involved with. He disassociated himself from these groups after realizing at a protest around 2012 that newer members were willing to use violence.[65][66]

Run for Office

On 31 March 2021 it was announced that Meechan was running for office with the Scottish Libertarian Party. He would represent the constituency of Motherwell and Wishaw in the Scottish Parliament. He was quoted as saying that "I think everyone deserves freedom of speech, individual liberty and autonomy over their own bodies and lives," and that the current Scottish government is not delivering this.[67][68][69]

Meechan won 254 votes or 0.7%, finishing fifth behind the Scottish National Party, Labour, Conservatives, and Liberal Democrats and ahead of the Communist Party of Britain and UK Independence Party.[70][71]

YouTube

Since becoming active on 23 August 2015, Meechan's content has dealt with issues of social and political interest, including freedom of speech, political correctness, and social justice ideology. He has also covered sociological and anthropological phenomena such as bride kidnapping, juggalo furries, Rose McGowan and professional flatulence.[72][73]

An educational series on his channel entitled Absolute Mad Lads provides biographical information on contemporary and historical figures with sensational life histories, generally involving violence. These have included famous penis remover Lorena Bobbitt, ancient Greek statesman and general Alcibiades, and Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara.[73]

Demonetization and Deplatforming

On 17 January 2019 Meechan reported that Buzzfeed reporter Mark Di Stefano contacted him to inquire about the monetization of his YouTube channel. He checked the channel and found that YouTube had demonetized all of his videos on the platform. He received "no warning, no reason, nothing at all from YouTube." The same reporter had earlier written an article characterizing him as "far-right," and he attributes the sudden demonetization to this article.[61]

Meechan states that he has been made unemployable by his court case and the associated media smears against him. He was previously employed in private security and has expressed the desire to work in this field again but considers it impossible.[61]

On 29 April 2019 Meechan posted emails he had received from BBC reporter Mark Daly which complained of "racist, islamophobic and white supremacist content" on a Discord server he alleged he operated and asked for comment for an upcoming piece. The reporter also complained that a comment criticizing black UK politician Dianne Abbott for expecting white people to "apologize for slavery at the beginning of every sentence" was an example of "derogatory remarks about black people." Daly asked if UKIP was aware of the page and whether he considered himself "an appropriate candidate to stand in the European elections." Meechan responded that he was neither the owner nor the chief moderator of the server, that the server was very diverse in traits such as race and ideology, and that the reporter had cherry-picked comments to paint the server as "white supremacist," but had ignored anti-white and communist material.[74]

On 29 April 2019 Meechan's was informed that his Discord account had been disabled in an email from the Trust and Safety Team alleging that his account had "sent threats to others, participated in targeted harassment, or incited violence against individuals or communities." Meechan categorically denies the allegations and attributes the decision to intervention by the BBC.[75]

At some point on or after July 3 2020 the monetization on many of Meechan's videos was reinstated due to intervention by prominent YouTuber Ethan Klein.[76][77][78][79][80]

See also

References

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External links