The Globe and Mail reports that self-described white supremacist Philip Arps was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison for sharing video footage of the New Zealand mosque shooting that circulated throughout the internet in March. The sentencing comes not long after Arps pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the video, which was originally live streamed via Facebook by the alleged killer, Brenton Tarrant.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Tarrant — who is accused of killing 51 Muslims at two mosques on March 15 — pleaded not guilty during a brief court appearance late last week through an audiovisual link from Auckland Prison.
Arps reportedly has strong views about the Muslim community and compared himself to Rudolf Hess, a German politician and Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler. The 44-year old showed no empathy toward the victims of the mosque shooting and called the incident “awesome” when questioned by Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll.
O’Driscoll compared Arps’ sharing of the video to committing a hate crime.
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred.”
But Arps and his lawyer, Anselm Williams, argued that Arps had the right to share the video as he pleased to pursue and express his political beliefs. Williams also argued that Arps should not be sent to prison before the judge’s decision.
“It’s my submission that this court needs to be very careful to sentence Mr. Arps based on what it is that he has actually done, and what he accepts he has done, not on the basis of the views that he holds,” Williams said.
Arps has filed an appeal against his sentence with the High Court.
Al Jazeera reports that New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has helped spearhead “Christchurch Call,” which is a global pledge that aims to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, broadcast attacks, and organize hardline groups.
Earlier this June, YouTube announced new steps to “tackle hate” through the removal of hateful and supremacist content. It also pledged to reduce “borderline content,” such as those pushing bogus medical cures and flat-Earth theories, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
“The openness of YouTube’s platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence.”
In the past, YouTube has been criticized for its slow action against extremist, abusive, and misleading content, while others have criticized it for censorship against conservatives.