The National Council of Churches, engaging in one of its periodic crusades that no one pays any attention to but which mainline church members pay for, is holding a “Media Violence Fast” next week. Is this primarily about avoiding violent television entertainment? Will the participants be called upon to temporarily give up their devotion to professional wrestling? Or is it mostly about politics?

Hey, this is the NCC. Of course that last is a rhetorical question. According to the NCC News Service:

When people hear immigrants denounced on radio call-in shows, or see violent assaults on immigrants on television or cinema, are they more likely to be violent themselves?

So when people express views of American immigration policy that the NCC doesn’t agree with, that now constitutes “media violence.”

“We are asking people to seek other forms of programming and intellectual stimulation, and to reflect on what it means to purposefully distance oneself from violence as entertainment, especially hate speech against immigrants that is being billed as unbiased, ‘fair and balanced’ news,” says the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive director of the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc.

Disagreement on immigration policy is now also “hate speech.”

The coalition is also urging the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) to update its 1993 report, The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes.

“We are concerned about this issue because of the possible connection between hate speech and violent hate crimes and the lack of information for members of the public concerned about the issue,” said Guess, who is helping to staff the work of the Coalition.

The next step, then, will be asserting that speaking out for secure borders, and in rejection of the idea that illegal immigrants should be welcomed with open arms, is now “hate speech,” and whenever some whack job decides to kill an illegal immigrant, he will be asked whether he ever watched Fox News, which will then be charged with incitement.

Cheryl A. Leanza, a media attorney who serves as policy director with the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communications, Inc., emphasizes that the coalition does not support censorship, but is advocating a study by the federal government to track the impact of anti-immigrant speech on physical violence.

They don’t support “censorship,” but presumably do support finding out if there are any connections, however tenuous, between conservative opinions about immigration policy and violence against illegal immigrants, the better to know who to say “tsk, tsk” to.

The coalition is expressing particular concern about the frequency and tone of anti-immigrant remarks made by several TV and radio commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Lou Dobbs.

“Hate speech in the media is a growing problem that must be examined before it can be solved,” Leanza said. “The possible correlation between hate speech and violence crime gives us great pause. Immigrant, minority, and religious populations are often targets of hate speech before they are subsequently the target of physical hate crimes.”

I don’t listen to any of the gentlemen mentioned above, but I’d say the NCC has a responsibility to both define and give examples of “hate speech” by any of them before tarring them with this kind of brush. What the NCC is really doing here is seeking to delegitimize dissent from their own views on this particular subject, which is nothing more than a form of bullying. I wonder if we can use the anti-bullying laws against them?