• ratface posted an update 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Should you get sent to jail for a joke? Jonathan Pie is on another rant, this time for a case heard in Scotland where a person could go to prison for making a joke.

    Does he have a point?

    Not Safe For Work.

    • I agree with him, you start locking people up for stuff like this and things can get very bad very quickly.

    • I’d rather that people are free to reveal themselves as dickheads.

      I’d rather it wasn’t up to those in power to decide whether someone is funny or should be jailed.

    • “Gas the Jews” Hilarious. Ffs.

      Free speech doesn’t include hate speech.

      It was only a joke isn’t a defence against hate speech or antisemitism.

      • Do you not think that he was taking the piddle out of the pug and the Nazi’s simultaneously?

        • No I think he was being a @#$&.

          Posting it on YouTube makes a mockery of his claims it was just a joke between him and his mates.

          Meanwhile in Scotland antisemitic attacks are up.

          • I’m kinda torn, what he’s done risks making a joke of what happen to the Jews, which isn’t on at all, and possibly makes light of antisemitism, but I don’t know if he should go to jail? The context in which he’s said what he did, wasn’t one in which he was promoting antisemitic views, ie ‘the Jews are like this, and taking advantage of xyz, and have this agenda’, he was getting a pug to do a Nazi salute to sieg heils and making it excited at ‘gas the Jews’. The second might be in really really bad taste, but I dunno if it qualifies as hate speech? Katie Price likening immigrants or asylum seekers (I forget which) to cockroaches was arguably worse. I don’t know, though, I’m torn.

            I think the line is blurred, and he’s in the blurred part between one thing and the other? It’s subjective, but to me he’s just on the side of not spreading hate speech, but it’s a close one. He should be sentenced to any people who see him calling him a twit for a month perhaps?

            He’s definitely a twit…

          • I agree he “was being a @#$&.” but I also think he should not be jailed. Training the dog to respond to “gas the jews” is tasteless and makes me feel very uncomfortable , but I do not feel it is criminal. That said, maybe I am just as bad… in isolation, I would probably have laughed at a dog being trained to respond to “Seig Heil”. To me, that’s more a mockery of Nazis and the over-anthropomorphism of animals than a hate crime. My own position is pretty much the variously misttribued quote:

            “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

          • No, it really doesn’t. YouTube is a perfectly convenient way of sharing video content with a group of friends. For every famous new-media celebrity getting millions of views, there are thousands of low-profile people using the platform to share things with a handful of mates.

      • No, you’ve completely missed the point. Jonathan Pie is absolutely spot on (as usual). Hilarious as well. Goose stepping outside the court – brilliant

      • I don’t find the original video funny either, and definitely not as funny as he thinks he is. But do you think he has committed a crime, because in the context of a stupid video he repeats an offensive statement? Or even do you think the crime so bad that he deserves to go to prison?

        I don’t.

      • >”Gas the Jews” Hilarious. Ffs.

        The issue isn’t whether or not it’s funny, it’s whether it should be a crime.

        >Free speech doesn’t include hate speech.

        Freedom of speech is certainly a qualified right, and those who try to justify spreading hatred with “free speech, innit” are prats. There are a lot of them around.

        I haven’t seen the video, but it sounds like there might be ample reason to take it down from youtube, which is public and you need to have basic manners when you speak in public. But committing a criminal offence is a completely different matter to having your freedom to publicly broadcast whatever you like curtailed.

        > It was only a joke isn’t a defence against hate speech or antisemitism.

        So what’s your position? Do you think that the joke should be allowed to stay on youtube, or should it be taken down, or should it both be taken down and the publisher prosecuted for a criminal offence? Can you follow through the implications of prosecuting people for making racist or offensive jokes and say that you’re happy to live in that society?

        You might not like the joke, and that’s fine, but do you think that making the joke should be a criminal offence?

        • I understand your point and yes, there are a lot of idiots out there spouting toxic crap but if you make people afraid to express themselves through fear of legal sanction then they just retreat to the internet, their likeminded friends or their extremist churches. The end result is that their views are reinforced instead of challenged and they never get their noses rubbed in the fact that normal folk find such people ridiculous and their views abhorrent.

      • “Free speech doesn’t include hate speech.”

        “Hate speech” is a very vague term, and if we accept that “free speech doesn’t include hate speech” then we’ve lost free speech because anyone can shut down any speech just by claiming that it is hateful to them.

        Indeed, that’s how the term “hate speech” functions these days, it’s the modern version of “heresy” or “blasphemy”, an attempt to get one’s own views to prevail by disallowing anyone who disagrees from speaking.

        The boundary of free speech should not be “I’m upset”, it should be incitement to violence and actual direct threats.

        • I agree with the thrust of what you’re saying, but you’re being vague. What do you mean by the boundary of free speech? Do you mean what should be legal to say at all, or what should be accepted on youtube for anyone to access?

          I think that there is very little that should be illegal to say; but there are lots of public situations (and almost no private ones) where if what you’re saying is going to have a demonstrable negative impact, you can rightfully be told to STFU. That’s not an infringement of free speech, it’s being asked to cease antisocial behaviour. Being told to STFU (e.g. having your video taken down off youtube following complaints) is a very different bag to being charged with a criminal offence – which do you see as defining “the boundary of free speech”?

          A good example that came up on a thread on here recently was the Mayor of London saying there was no way on earth some bigoted religious group could plaster homophobic slogans to the side of a bus, whereas he was happy for Stonewall to plaster their anti-homophobic slogans to the sides of said buses. The difference is that one expression is antisocial, and the other is the opposite. Not everyone agrees with which is which, but we live in a democracy and we give the Mayor the power to decide on behalf of the people.

          Free speech is an important concept in law but it isn’t a justification for broadcasting whatever crap you want, however you want, regardless of the consequences for others.

      • Free speech doesn’t include hate speech? That’s a very odd statement. Stopping people saying they hate something doesn’t stop them hating it (anymore than stopping them saying they love something would stop them loving it). Given this, it’s surely better to let them speak and know where things stand and manage matters accordingly?

    • Isn’t this just the unfortunate conclusion to the over Political Correctness that has proliferated social media in the last few years or so?
      It seems that social media (and utterz is not immune to this) goes into a frenzy whenever anything is deemed offensive and with people demanding that the offender loses their job (gets banned), etc.
      In fact, I would say that some of the posters on this very thread, quite often get enraged if for example Clarkson/Boyle say something racist/bigoted/homophobic/sexist, etc. I’m not saying that those some posters would call for Clarkson/Boyle to be jailed, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see that others would see that a bloke encouraging a dog to do a Nazi salute is a hate crime and that hate crime seems to be something that the Police and CPS are quite hot on prosecuting at the moment.
      Obviously, the Police/CPS/Courts should use a bit of common sense and be able to differentiate between genuine hate crime and a joke no matter how distasteful. However, as in all things, it’s subjective and if as a society we are pushing for a nicer, safer, more PC world then we have to accept that ‘crimes’ like this will end up in the courts and sometimes with daft conclusions like this.

    • Regardless of my views on the sentencing, I don’t think what he did is in any sense a joke as your OP suggests. It may be found funny by some people, but it doesn’t have a punchline or any other defining characteristic of a joke.

      My views on the sentencing: If I ran through town shouting “gas all the Jews” I’d expect similar consequences. Some people seem to have real trouble accepting that “but the internets” isn’t actually a mitigating factor.

      • I just watched his video on YouTube and he does introduce it by saying that by training his girlfriends dog up like a Nazi it’ll piss her off. I think it’s very hard to see that in any other way than as a deliberate joke. Whether it’s funny or not is another thing, but it is clearly introduced as something to wind up his girlfriend.

        I like freedom of speech, I dislike the idea of restrictions on that due to hate speech, as there is no clear definition on what it is. It depends on people’s willingness to be offended. Do I agree with a group of white supremacists chanting at young children from a minority and claiming freedom of speech? No, so I wonder what the middle ground is.

        There is a current trend of reporting out of context, Pie identifies this and it seems the judge did too (and others up the post,) why not watch the video and see whether it matches the reported hype?

      • The attempt at humour is this:

        The video maker regards “gas the Jews” as among the worst things one could say and regards Nazis as among the worst things to be.

        The humour is mixing Nazi slogans (totally abhorrent) with the actions of a cute little pug dog**, where the dog is of course oblivious to the meaning of the slogans. That incongruity is the point.

        Whether it works or not as humour is subjective (to me, it is slightly funny but more just silly).

        To interpret this as anti-Semitic or the same as shouting “gas the Jews” in the street is just wrong. It is not in any sense advocacy of those sentiments, and it is certainly not advocacy of those sentiments disguised or excused as “just a joke”. The whole “joke” does depend on the video maker regarding those things as abhorrent.

        [**Well, some people find that sort of dog cute; I don’t.]

        • Yes, I understand that for some people it was humorous. As I thought was very clear from my post, it was not a “joke”. The distinction is nothing to do with subjective matters of taste, or lack thereoff. Just like John Cleese strutting about with an over-the-top nazi march was humour but was not a joke.

          You could argue training the dog is a sort of practical joke, but posting the video publicly is not training the dog. What would happen to someone shouting “gas the Jews” at a dog in public, even if the reasons turn out to be some elaborate bad taste prank?

          • In a public “scene”, people can legitimately wonder whether their physical safety might be threatened. They also had no say in witnessing it.

            No-one can feel in imminent physical danger from a youtube video. And the only people who see it are those who choose to click on a video labelled “Nazi dog” where the contents are advertised up-front. So if you don’t want to be offended by it then you can simply not click.

            So, sorry, but the two are not comparable.

      • I don’t think I’ve actually seen anybody suggest that being on the internet IS a major mitigating factor. The mitigating factor is that, if somebody actually watches the video with their brain engaged, it’s impossible to conclude that he endorses, approves of or encourages the gassing of Jews. I did watch the video after seeing the news stories and whilst I didn’t think it was all that funny, the humorous intent was never at all in doubt.

        Your example of running through town shouting “gas all the Jews” is different mostly because it could reasonably be interpreted as a serious suggestion.

    • Where has the nation’s sense of humour gone?

      The first thing that came into my head was that when I was growing up I’d see bikers going round with Iron Crosses on their leather jackets and swastikas on their backs. Did many people care? Not that I remember. Did the country turn into a fascist state. No? And I’m going back to when many adult males had fought in WWII.

      It’s a joke! If you can’t see that then the problem is with you, not with the comedian.

    • Should sue youtube for taking the video down for no legal reason only subjective opinion.

      • I imagine that a clip that causes a lot of complaints because it’s construed as racist or antisemitic breaks their guidelines and they can take it down if it’s giving them a bad name. Their sandpit and all that.

        While it’s the role of the law to ensure support freedom of speech (first and foremost by not making jokes or opinions illegal) it’s not the role of YouTube. People who complain that if you can’t post whatever you want on the internet without someone else deciding to take it down, then that’s an infringement of free speech simply don’t understand what free speech means.

        • > they can take it down if it’s giving them a bad name. Their sandpit and all that.

          Last time I looked, just after the verdict, the original video had been blocked or removed but several other people had uploaded copies of it that appear when you search for it. It could be that the original author had chosen to take it down but it seems more likely that YouTube did it. They’re obviously not bothered enough to make it hard for people to share copies of it though.

          > While it’s the role of the law to ensure support freedom of speech (first and foremost by not making jokes or opinions illegal) it’s not the role of YouTube. People who complain that if you can’t post whatever you want on the internet without someone else deciding to take it down, then that’s an infringement of free speech simply don’t understand what free speech means.

          I agree that people far too often conflate or confuse freedom of speech with “this private company should be required to host my speech”. Having said that, there are worthwhile questions to ponder about YouTube’s position of near monopoly on certain kinds of video hosting. They do have an awful lot of power.

      • Youtube, control what you can and can’t say on their platform. We should be, and generally are, free to say pretty much what we want, but no one is required to provide us with a megaphone with which to broadcast our views. And if you own the megaphone, then it’s your choice who to give it to.

        The state has, I think, responsibility to ensure that we have unimpeded access to diverse views, and so should obviously not control the media and internet. The state also has some responsibility to ensure that the media and internet aren’t used to harm those who can’t fight back or to undermine democracy and the rule of law. I tend to find arguments about free speech often ignore the balance that I think needs to be struck – if everyone’s free to broadcast whatever they want then we surrender control of tools of persuasion to those with the most money and influence. And that’s not the society I want to live in.

    • Is this really ‘hate speech’?

      In my view it is quite the opposite. Someone like this taking the most sacrosanct Nazi symbolism of the entire regime and making such an open mockery of it is about as far from antisemitism as it is possible to get.

      To take offense is to totally and utterly miss the point.

      Outlawing offensive jokes should be far more offensive to you than this joke itself. Think about Turkey where you’re prosecuted for joking about Erdogan. Do we really want to walk that way?

      • Being able to be rude to or joke about the prime minister is free speech. Joking about the mass deaths of a large number of people due to their heritage isn’t in my opinion.

        I don’t agree with what’s happening in Turkey, but I don’t think it is the same.

    • For me this was hate speech.

      There appears to be a strong correlation between increase in hate speech and increase in violent hate crime. If people feel more able to say anti Semitic things, a number of them will feel it is ok to hurt people. Personally I think we should challenge hate speech strongly and I support the sheriff in this case. I appreciate it’s not a popular view on here, but I haven’t been persuaded otherwise yet.

      A large number of comments on the video were not in anyway joking, and the involvement of the EDL or ex EDL lot doesn’t make me thing better of it either.

      • Can you give evidence of this, including evidence that there have been increases in “hate speech” (a very ill-defined thing) and violent hate crime?