While discussing freedom of speech and freedom of religion with a group of German students last week, newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry told them "Americans have the right to be stupid."
Kerry came under fire, particularly among political conservatives, for misrepresenting Americans and American liberties abroad. The quote was part of his explanation of how distasteful and offensive points of view can be tolerated as free speech in the U.S. (He mentioned provocative, insulting signs… wonder who that could be?)
Still, the idea of referring to the First Amendment as the "right to be stupid" struck many the wrong way, seen reflective of a government ever closer to reducing freedom of speech and freedom of religion, both sacred tenants of American culture and thought.
His comments—and the headlines they spurred—are especially troubling when you consider that much of the world does not share in our freedom of speech or freedom of religion, ...1