Conservative radio host Glenn Beck is accusing the Food Network of McCarthyism after it fired celebrity cook Paula Deen over her admitted use of racial slurs.
Wearing what appeared to be a Boy Scout uniform on his Monday Internet broadcast, Beck said that Deen "doesn't sound racist."
"When you go down the road of suppression -- suppression, discouraging people from speaking their minds, striking terror in the heart and being a slave to political correctness by making them all go away, you're engaging in McCarthyism and we regress as a society and become less free," he explained. "How can people advance if we suppress any thought? How can we advance if we train people not to rock the boat?"
"Where would the world be if Columbus and Magellan and other world explorers believed conventional wisdom that the Earth was flat? Or they were told, 'That's it, you're not going anywhere, to jail with you'?" Beck asked. "Where would be be if Martin Luther King didn't speak and challenge segregation and racism?"
The conservative host argued that Deen's fate should have been decided by television ratings "if Americans ends up deciding she's a racist."
"Instead the Food Network caved and contributed to the growing un-American atmosphere of fear and silence," he insisted. "Hello, Joseph McCarthy. We're here, gang. All speech must be defended. Especially the speech that you do not like."
Beck said that a recent video of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) being booed at Netroots Nation for defending criminal charges against National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden proved that anyone's speech could be shut down.
"These people have created a nice little problem for themselves," he said. "They have abandoned every liberal principle for every progressive principle. And that means controlling people. They've targeted me and Fox and the Koch brothers and Karl Rove and the teabaggers and everybody else, but eventually progressives run out of people to blame and they go after anyone."