John Kerry Is Wrong About The “Right To Be Stupid”

John Kerry tried to explain why Nazis in America can march openly as oppose to Germany where they are banned. He failed. Miserably.

Kerry vigorously defended Americans’ “right to be stupid” in a speech to German students during his first overseas trip as secretary of State.

“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 told the students in Berlin, according to 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 American you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be.”

If I were a glass half full kind of guy, I’d be thankful that he at least recognizes some limits on the government. But I’m not. Starting assumptions matter because where you begin influences where you wind up. Kerry starts in the wrong place.

Our First Amendment rights are not a grant of “tolerance” by the government (which might be withdrawn). They are a recognition that we have these rights by our existence. The First Amendment is a control on government; it says what Congress may not do. We believe in that as a people our rights exists independent of the state and it is not up to the state to “tolerate” our expressions but to stay the hell away from them.

I understand that it’s popular for an elected official to run down noxious groups like Nazis but a Secretary of State speaking to a foreign audience should not be rendering qualitative judgment on any form speech. He should be explaining that government in the United States is limited in its powers by the people and that in America the people are the ones who “tolerate” the government.

Sadly that’s likely a bridge too far for Kerry.

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About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait for the Howie Carr show today. He’ll have a blast with Live Shot.

    We have a lot in common in that I’m a 68 year old conservative, Jewish woman who loves hockey @ UMass Amherst…./s (The hockey part isn’t satire.)

    I made my first video since the election:

    Michelle Obama “You Guys Make a Pretty Good Photo Op”

  2. The headline would have been just as accurate stopping with “John Kerre’ Is Wrong.”

  3. Actually, only certain people in this country have a right to be stupid. John Kerry is allowed to exercise that right every day. His statement is further proof.

    The only free thing Kerry ever understood was the free money he got by marrying into money neither he or his wives earned.

  4. It’s sadly in keeping with the State Department’s conception of our natural rights. Lest we forget what the Cairo Embassy said on 9/11/12: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” I didn’t know a natural right could be abused. Seems an awful lot like an endorsement of the type of content-based discrimination supposed to be eschewed when considering a right like freedom of expression.

  5. He can be honester overseas among his spiritual kin.

  6. I’m going to give Kerry a pass on this. Yes, our Constitution restricts the government from banning a religion (though he gets dinged for labelling Nazism as a religion rather than a political philosophy). But our tolerance for religion is a cultural one. They mutually reinforce one another.

  7. “Yes, our Constitution restricts the government from banning a religion”

    No. It’s a natural, negative right. The Constitution merely states it explicitly.

  8. The Political Hat

    Kerry certainly embodies the “right to be stupid”…

  9. WTE, yes, you’re correct. As with all rights of man, they are mine by birth, or endowed by my Creator, or however you wish to phrase it. And believe me, we’re sympatico on that. I’ve preached that myself more than once.

    Allow me to rephrase, The Constitution, acknowledging my natural right to freedom of religion, also makes explicit the implicit restriction on the Government from infringing it.

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