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Deval Patrick on Beck Rally: 'It's a Free Country. I Wish It Weren't.'

10:20 AM, Sep 2, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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In this episode of "Better Know Your Democratic Governor," longtime Obama ally (and speech donor) Deval Patrick seems to commit a Kinsleyan gaffe when asked about the Glenn Beck rally held on the Mall August 28.

The rally faced criticism from liberals, particularly black leaders who believed it was inappropriate to hold it on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Most of those liberals were wise enough not to question Beck's right to hold a rally; just the wisdom and symbolism of the date and place. Gov. Patrick is not so sure about the Constitutional rights of those who disagree with him.

When asked whether he was troubled by the rally, he replies, "It's a free country. I wish it weren't. You know, you got to respect that freedom." Here's Massachusetts talker Michael Graham discussing the comment, with audio of the clip:

If I were the defense for Patrick, I'd argue that it's possible he was saying, in essence, "It's a free country. I wish it (the rally) weren't (held on that date). You know, you got to respect that freedom." But my, that would be an odd construction for that sentiment. In defending his remark, Patrick doesn't put forth that argument. He merely reiterates that it's a free country, and he wishes the rally hadn't been held that day.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill took him to task over the comment today:

“It’s pretty unbelievable and typical of the far left,” Cahill told the Herald. “When they don’t like what the other side says, they want to close down free speech.”

Patrick later in the day defended his radio remarks, stressing he has long defended freedom of speech. The governor said he meant that Fox TV host Glenn Beck should not have chosen the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech on its 47th anniversary to hold his “Restoring Honor” rally. The rally was held Saturday.

“I wish they hadn’t chose that place and that day to have that event,” Patrick said. “But it’s a free country. That was my point, and it has to be respected.”

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