Glenn Beck defends Paula Deen, evoking Martin Luther King Jr.

In a lengthy tirade on his Web broadcast Wednesday, Glenn Beck came to the defense of embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen, describing her past use of the N-word as a “violation of political correctness, nothing more” and suggesting that she was the victim of “McCarthyism.”

Although Beck acknowledged that as an employer the Food Network was well within its rights to dismiss Deen, as it did Friday, he used her predicament to warn viewers about what he saw as media overreaction and a pervasive threat to free speech.

“How can people advance if we suppress any thought?” asked Beck, dressed in quasi-military garb, adding, “I’m not putting the N-word into any category of great thought.”

RELATED: Paula Deen blames media in second video addressing 'N-word' uproar

Nevertheless, he likened Deen’s plight to that of historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and, yes, Martin Luther King Jr.

“Where would the world be if Columbus and Magellan and other world explorers believed conventional wisdom and believed the world was flat… Where would we be if Martin Luther King didn’t speak and challenge segregation? Where would we be if everyone in the world thought in the box?” Beck wondered.

After chronicling at length his own support for politically incorrect statements made by Bill Maher, Beck urged viewers to  “defend our right to speech and whenever you see it under assault.”

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