(JTA) — European Parliament lawmakers from Britain’s nationalist UKIP party hosted at a conference on free speech online a member who taught a dog to give the Nazi salute when told “gas the Jews.”
Mark Meechan attended and spoke at the UKIP-organized event in Strasbourg, France, on Monday, The Scotsman reported. David Coburn, one of UKIP’s 24 lawmakers at the European Parliament, announced that Meechan has joined UKIP, saying that he and others like him “are the future” and are “going to take us in a new direction.”
In April, Meechan was fined approximately $1,000 for filming the dog stunt and posting it online.
In his speech, Meechan, 30, decried the employment by internet giants of “unseen algorithms analyzing content, either approving of disapproving it before it can go online, open to so much abuse that it’s diabolical.” Policing of free speech online, he said, “can lead to fascism.”
Speaking about his case, he said: “In my video I gave context to what I was doing. I was getting a cute dog to react to a vulgar phrase in order to annoy my girlfriend. The phrase ‘gas the Jews’ is a horrible phrase. It is and people will be offended by hearing it. But there was no direction instruction to actually harm anyone within my video. It was made about two years ago and I have yet to hear of any anti-Semitic attacks carried out because someone was inspired by a pug. You just need to analyze the context in which the phrase was said.”
Meechan was found guilty of breaching Britain’s Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature” in an offense aggravated by religious prejudice.
Meechan, of Coatbridge near Glasgow, raised more than $200,000 through a crowdfunding page to pay for legal fees to fund an appeal against his conviction and sentence but his application was refused. He joined UKIP in the wake of his conviction.
On Monday, he sat alongside UKIP leader Gerard Batten, Coburn and fellow YouTuber Carl Benjamin at a panel in Strasbourg. He was there to support the party’s opposition to new EU proposals that would make platforms like YouTube liable for copyright infringements.