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John Kerry: 'In America you have a right to be stupid'

Published time: February 26, 2013 15:25
Edited time: February 28, 2013 12:16
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP Photo / Bertrand Guay)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP Photo / Bertrand Guay)

US Secretary of State John Kerry advocated First Amendment-protected freedoms during an address in Berlin on Tuesday, and said that thanks to the US Constitution, "you have a right to be stupid if you want to be” in America.

Kerry, a long-time Democratic senator from Massachusetts and former presidential hopeful, was speaking to a group of German students when he opined about the benefits of freedom of speech, religion and thought.

Even if ideas were unpopular, said Kerry, the US Constitution allows for them to be voiced. And yes, that includes the stupid ones.

"People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it's the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another," he said.

"The reason is, that's freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," Kerry added. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.

"As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view," he said.

Kerry’s stop in Berlin this week marked only the second city on the new secretary of state’s trip abroad. He was confirmed for the position earlier this month, replacing former-Sec. Hillary Clinton as the United States’ top foreign minister.


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