NPR : News

John Kerry To German Students: Americans Have 'Right To Be Stupid'

In his first foreign trip as Secretary of State, John Kerry defended America's civil liberties during his talk with German students.

Kerry said that the United States' tradition of freedom of speech — even if it includes offensive speech — is a virtue.

He said, according to Reuters:

"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.

"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. 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 "stupid" line, by the way, received a round of laughs.

If you remember, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to defend the First Amendment after a U.S.-produced film depicting the Prophet Muhammad inflamed the Arab world.

"I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day," she said. "In today's world with today's technologies, that is impossible. But even if it was possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression which is enshrined in our constitution and our law.

"And we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


From A Weirdo Nerd To A Guy Who Plays One On TV

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with the actor Rainn Wilson about his new memoir, The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy.

How Long Can Florida's Citrus Industry Survive?

The USDA recently stunned growers when it projected the smallest orange harvest for Florida in more than 50 years. The culprit: A tiny insect that's killing off the state's trees — and industry.

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.