We always recommend not teaching your girlfriend’s dog to salute Hitler, but defend the right to do so for those whose idea of comedy is not clever enough to rise above shock humor.
No, not because we support Nazis, but because we support free speech, including offensive speech, and distasteful jokes.
A Scottish YouTuber was arrested for making a video in which he “pranks” his girlfriend by teaching her adorable little dust mop dog to mimic Nazi gestures, and react to videos and phrases involving Hitler and anti-Semitism.
He was charged with publishing offensive material online, under the Communications Act of 2003, which criminalizes improper use of electronic communications.
His trial was set for last Monday but has been delayed for the second time. He faces a year in prison, and a fine.
What this means:
Again, the timing of events makes one wonder if the delay of the trial is simply to let public anger cool down before making an example out of the man.
The man’s guilt and sentence will be decided by one judge without a jury.
So basically, the government gets to decide what is offensive, and punish people for “hate speech.”
Think about the ridiculous amount of power that one man has. It comes down to a judge deciding what will constitute unprotected speech, with no checks on his power.
Think about all the people that could be imprisoned in America, on the left and the right, for the opinions they voice about government officials. The political discourse is pretty full of hate.
For example, certain celebrities (who won’t be named to avoid playing into their game) perform clearly hate filled, offensive publicity stunts involving political figures. Even though 99.9% of these cases are pathetically obvious self serving attempts at publicity, their immaturity must be allowed in order to protect actually important free speech, which may otherwise be grouped with sad and transparent attempts to gain notoriety.
And as unfortunate as that is, it is even more terrifying to consider the precedents of western governments in trampling the right to say what you want.
If we don’t defend the right to be offensive now, it will be too late when we are left begging a random judge not to lock us up for anything the government deems offensive.