The pug that roared – A first-hand account of the Free Dankula protest and beyond
When Markus Meechan (known online as the Scottish Comedian ‘Count Dankula’) initially uploaded his now infamous ‘M8 Yer Dug’s a Nazi’ video, which showed him teaching his girlfriend’s pug dog, Buddha, raising its paw in a Roman salute to the Hitlerian command of ‘Sieg Heil’, he cannot have known that it would lead to a bitter two-year campaign over the legal precedent of offensive comedy that propelled him to the frontlines of British public discourse on free speech. The legal precedent set by his case was that regardless of the context in which one makes comments online, it is the court’s right to decide context, and therefore a harmless comedian such as he was to be punished under the false allegations of inciting racial hatred. And yet, as he left Airdrie Sherriff’s Court on Monday the 23rd April, holding’s his girlfriend’s hand in one of his own and waving to the crowds of supporters and journalists with the other, having been fined £800 for the crime of mocking Nazis in comedic fashion, he looked upright and proud in his purpose. Count Dankula, it would seem, has through his endeavours risen the ranks to become one of the free speech movement’s prominent aristocrats as his namesake foretold.
Much has been said of the video in question, and the court case and sentencing that followed (a court case, I hasten to add, instigated by the Scottish Police and not by any concerned members of the public, for none could be found in spite of the video going viral and being shared over three million times), the best source of which being none other than Count Dankula’s own Youtube Account.
So this article will focus primarily on the Free Dankula protest march that occurred on the 23rd April in London in support of Count Dankula and in opposition to the gradual rolling back of personal freedoms, particularly of expression, enacted by successive anti-individual Conservative and Labour governments. The Old Continent sent my good self to London to cover the protest and to gain a feeling for the public mood in regards to the principles of free speech in a democratic society.
The March – A Bold Display of Happiness
Gathering at midday in Leicester Square, the protesters, numbering anything between five hundred and a thousand strong depending on the source, came together in a spirit of joy and nonviolent protest. Unlike the various pro or anti-Trump rallies that rocked America last year with political street battles, the Free Dankula march, while a loud and colourful affair, was completely peaceful. Many said thank you and made idle chit-chat to the police officers who lined the march and laid out the rolling cordon along our flanks, although the protesters were wisely dubious of the fact that the entire march was filmed from start to finish, from multiple angles, by those same officers.
It must be noted that this peace was largely kept by the fact that the protest was organised relatively quietly, by the YouTube commentator Carl Benjamin or ‘Sargon of Akkad’ as he is better known, and his classical liberal movement, The Liberalists, and therefore did not attract the hateful eye of Antifa, allowing the march to go on without threat of militant ‘black bloc’ communists.
A few words were said over megaphones by protest organisers at Leicester Square, before the march set off of a short but winding route through London, past the National Gallery and the Ministry of Defence building, coming to a halt near the Cenotaph and directly outside Downing Street. The marchers laughed, joked and chatted amongst themselves; the air was electric with hope. Given that a large number of those involved in the protest seemed to be under the age of thirty, one could see that after years of having to keep their views to themselves to avoid the ire of draconian educators in both Secondary Schools and Universities, or to avoid the punishment of politically sensitive employers in the workplace, the realisation of being together with hundreds of like-minded people – brothers and sisters in arms – came forth in a wave of euphoric jubilation. For many attending the protest, myself included, it was the first time that they had ever been able to come together with people who felt the exact same feelings on the matters of the day.
It felt good, I must admit, not to feel alone with my thoughts. The fact that we could all stand together was a triumph of liberty and camaraderie all in one.
This protest was not a grim one. Many free speech activists who were in attendance were there precisely to defend their freedom to enjoy or create whatever comedy they chose, and so alongside the Union Jacks and Flags of Saint George (the 23rd April being St George’s Day after all) that fluttered in the breeze, there were many Libertarian Gadsden flags with their shocking yellow fields, and the bright green of many flags of Kekistan, the imaginary nation created by politically aware meme perusers on the internet. Even I held aloft the Flag of Saint Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall from where I hail; the Cornish have a bold history of rising in revolt against the despotic actions of the English Crown. That beautiful white cross upon a black field never looked more at home than when it was soaring amidst the riotously coloured banners above the march.
hotoDon’t tread on meme
The Speeches – A Call to Arms
Arriving outside Downing Street, the marchers came round in a circle, surrounding the organisers who began to issue speeches. The first came from Ben Brown, the Higher Education representative from The Liberalists, who damned the government for their ambiguity in the definition of what is considered ‘grossly offensive’ in Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, the law that was utilised by the Scottish Police to haul Count Dankula into the Sherriff’s Court, and the same ambiguity in the Metropolitan Police’s definition of what constitutes a ‘hate crime’. Brown closed his fiery address, which had the assembled crowds roaring in support, by exhorting the protesters and those several thousand watching live through dozens of cameras and mobile phones to come together, to stand up and be counted, and to unite in every attempt to secure greater personal liberties for the British people and people across the Western World. He then introduced the primary organiser of the protest, Sargon of Akkad himself, whose name the marchers repeated loudly as he took to the circle and hefted the megaphone.
Although there were initial technical issues with Sargon’s speech, with him using three different megaphones in the first few minutes of his addressing the protest, Sargon opened with a controversial question;
“Was Enoch Powell right?”
Yes and no, he argued. Although the authority in the United Kingdom had indeed passed away from ‘the white man’, it has not passed into the hands of ‘the black man’, the Commonwealth Caribbean migrants who moved to the United Kingdom in the latter half of the 20th century and assimilated properly into the populace. It has instead passed into the hands of anyone who takes umbrage with the concept of Britishness, and the ancient traditions of liberal values in the British Isles, be they socialists, radical Muslims, or the mainstream political parties of the British electoral system.
Amidst howls and cheers he pressed on, decrying those who would dare try to suppress one of the key binding elements in the United Kingdom of four nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – I forgive him that he did not include Cornwall as the fifth nation because nobody else does) and of all those of other nations who take up residence in the UK; that of ethnic banter, that defuses the tensions of a multicultural society by bringing everyone down to the same level and encouraging everyone to be able to laugh at each other and themselves. In his own words:
“Ethnic jokes serve one purpose; to defuse ethnic tensions by normalising the differences between ethnicities. If we are not free to offend one another, then we are not free to make the kind of ethnic jokes that strengthen the social fabric of this country. Without the freedom to offend, we create a series of armed camps, each watching the others for any signs of transgression, both obsessed with defending the honour of their respective tribe. This can only divide a country by setting us apart from one another and making us strangers to our neighbours.”
Sargon of Akkad made a serious plea to the rights of humour, that we could all have joy at each other’s and our own expenses. That the United Kingdom needed a YouTuber from Swindon to grab a megaphone and make a loud address to hundreds of onlookers about the right to have banter between us felt like a damning declaration of the absolute state of Britain.
Following on from Sargon came Mark Helton, another Liberalist, and Helen Dale, a columnist for The Spectator, each with their own powerful addresses. Then, the circle was opened up for members of the protest who had words on their heart to speak. A great many strong speakers came from the multitude; across the crowd backs stiffened, resolves hardened and passers-by on foot and on London’s famed open-topped tour buses cheered in agreement as solid arguments, heartfelt pleas and angry condemnations shot out from the megaphone like bullets from the rifle of justice.
As the march began to disperse, the protesters congregated on the Tattershall Castle, a paddle steamer-come-pub permanently moored to the bank of the River Thames. The fire and passion of the rally, which had previously hung about the heads of the marchers like a nimbus of energy, sank into their hearts and minds as they continued to relish the freedom in the brotherhood they had discovered. Not a single harsh word was said by one protester to another, there was only a dizzying mixture of polite conversation, raucous banter and – perhaps most importantly – networking for future rallies, meetups and events.
Sadly, this too had to come to an end. As I made my way through the London Underground with members of Liberalists Cornwall, periodically one of our company would make a comment which, had it been said during the protest, would have elicited laughter and backslapping. At this time though, silence and terse voices prevailed; “You can’t say that, not here! Not anymore.”
Crowdfunding Dankula’s Appeal
In the wake of his £800 fine, Count Dankula flatly refused to pay, and instead appealed Airdrie Sherriff’s Court’s ruling. Giving the £800 instead to Glasgow Children’s Hospital, he made a plea to his fanbase; to raise £100,000 via crowdfunding to hire the best possible legal professionals to take the law to task in the Supreme Court. It was a big ask, he admitted, but if it could be done, then by lawful channels the legal precedent established by the Scottish Courts could be overturned.
Oh dear, I went to pay my fine and my finger must have slipped.
Silly me. pic.twitter.com/uRZs1mhoil
— Count Dankula🏴 (@CountDankulaTV) 30 april 2018
In under 24 hours, the target was reached, and kept increasing. As of today, the Count Dankula Appeal, which can be found here, stands at £164,528.
The war is on now for the right to speak freely in Britain. On Sunday the 6th May, a Day of Freedom is to be held at Speakers’ Corner in London, near the terminus of the Free Dankula protest, which The Old Continent will also be providing coverage for. It is scoped to be a much larger event, with all the major British free speech advocates in attendance. It is being organised by Tommy Robinson, the former English Defence League leader who cleaned up his act and now represents a popular army of people forgotten by the current regime, and also Milo Yiannopoulos, the infamous (some would say Dangerous) Jewish gay catholic who raised hell on behalf of Donald Trump during the 2016 US Presidential Election and led a series of controversial, common sense University and College campus speeches up and down the United States of America to raise awareness about the ills of feminism, social justice politics and American liberalism. Sargon of Akkad will also be present, with the Liberalists following in his wake.
And also in attendance will be one Count Dankula, a quasi-martyr for the cause of liberty who the British establishment should have just left alone.