Politics

Secretary of State John Kerry: 'In America, You Have a Right to be Stupid'

| by Michael Allen

Secretary of State John Kerry recently told some Berlin, Germany, students that Americans "have a right to be stupid."

“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,” Kerry said, reports Reuters.

"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.

“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America, you have a right to be stupid, if you want to be,” Kerry claimed, eliciting laughter.

“And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be. And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for. The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”

Kerry also recalled the time he spent in Berlin as the son of an American diplomat and when he snuck across to East Berlin on his bike: "I used to have great adventures. My bicycle and I were best friends. And I biked all around this city. I remember biking down Kurfuerstendamm and seeing nothing but rubble. This was in 1954 ... the war was very much still on people's minds.

"One day, using my diplomatic passport, I biked through the checkpoint right into the east sector and noticed very quickly how dark and unpopulated [it was] and sort of unhappy people looked, that hit this 12-year-old kid.

"I kind of felt a foreboding about it and I didn't spend much time. I kind of skedaddled and got back out of there and went home and proudly announced to my parents what I had done and was promptly grounded and had my passport pulled.

"As a 12-year-old, I saw the difference between East and West. I never made another trip like that. But I have never forgotten it. And now, it's vanished, vanished."

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Source: Reuters