Let Us Now Praise John Kerry: "In America you have a right to be stupid"

USAUSAI suspect that this may be about the only time I will ever agree with newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry, so I would like to underscore of the awesomeness of his recent comments to a bunch of German students in Berlin. Relevant snippets (rearranged by me), courtesy of Reuters:

"In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," he said, prompting laughter. "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," Kerry told the students in Berlin, the second stop on his inaugural trip as secretary of state.

"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 added...."The reason is, that's freedom, freedom of speech. 

"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," he added. "The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view."

GTAGTAMore here.

Kerry's comments represent a reversal of sorts of comments uttered by his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama in the wake of the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi. At that point, both Secretary Clinton and th president went out of their way to denounce freedom of expression and to lay the blame for violence on speech acts rather than, well, violent people. Indeed, as my colleague Matt Welch pointed out, Obama effectively called for a heckler's veto of any and all speech critical of Islam, Muhammad, or whatever. The father of one of the Americans murdered in Benghazi has charged that Clinton told him, "We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video" ["The Innocence of Muslims"].

For the length of her public career, Clinton has rarely missed an opportunity to inveigh against the supposedly dangerous effects of video games and movies and the like on the real world. Her silliness on that score reached hyperbolic heights back in 2005 when the then-Sen. Clinton said, "Grand Theft Auto...encourages them [children] to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them."

Kerry is hardly a staunch defender of free expression - in the video below (around the 4.10 mark), he was all in during ridiculous 1997 hearings that led to the TV ratings system and the iplemenation of the V-chip - but here's hoping that as he continues his tenure as the nation's top diplomat that he reiterates the message he loosed recently.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "comments to a bunch of German students in Berlin..."

    "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," he added. "The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view."

    And that's why Kerry rebuked the German government for persecuting homeschoolers, and promised to grant asylum to any German facing persecution for educating their children at home.

    Just kidding.

  • John||

    IN America you have a right to be stupid. And we have a President who lives that every day.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Oh. SNAP!

  • Irish||

    OT: I don't know if anyone saw this, but Charles Pierce couldn't help getting into the Woodward bashing a few days ago.

    Apparently Woodward was a secret conservative the whole time! Someone in A.M. links asked when they were going to start claiming he was a conservative plant. To which the answer is 'Three days ago.'

  • 21044||

    "Remember: They're not attacking Bob Woodward because they think he's lying. They're attacking him because they think he's telling the truth."

    twitter.com/jtLOL/status/307124064990928896

  • John||

    That is just it, what exactly has Woodward said that wasn't true? Obama did move the goal posts on sequestration and the White House did threaten Woodward because he said as much. What exactly is the argument?

  • Irish||

    The new lefty talking point is that 'The email wasn't threatening! It was just giving him a tip!'

    I agree the email wasn't particularly threatening, but it came after they called him and chewed him out for THIRTY MINUTES. Most transparent administration ever!

  • John||

    It wasn't threatening, the White House was just warning Woodward what vicious hacks the media is and how we would all attack him for daring to question Obama.

    I don't think that makes them or Obama look any better.

  • Tony||

    Woodward basically said Obama wanted the sequester cuts to happen, which is a lie. The whole point was to motivate Congress to formulate a different set of deficit-reduction priorities, and the president has always called for a "balanced" approach to that.

    The question of whose initial idea the sequester was is literally the least important aspect of this whole thing, which of course means the media is obsessed with it.

  • Irish||

    Balanced approach to cutting deficits = more taxes to increase spending and whine when cuts actually happen.

  • John||

    Obama doesn't want the cuts to happen. That is why he proposed them and met with Republicans for all of seven minutes yesterday to prevent them.

    Is there anything you say Tony that isn't a lie? Anything? "And" and "The" maybe?

  • Tony||

    Is there any thought you have that didn't originate on the Drudge Report?

  • Irish||

    HAHAHAHAHA! Drudge Report. Man, that was a good one. Why don't you ask him if he listens to Rush Limbaugh? That would be a pretty great joke.

  • Brandon||

    The question of whose initial idea the sequester was is literally the least important aspect of this whole thing, because it makes Obama look bad.

    What Tony means.

  • Tony||

    Interesting that you guys should have a dog in this fight. It's almost as if whatever makes Obama looks bad must be the truth.

  • ||

    It's almost as if the truth makes Obama look bad.

    There, fixed.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 2.28.13 @ 11:49AM |#
    "Woodward basically said Obama wanted the sequester cuts to happen, which is a lie."

    OK, shithead, he signed the thing.
    So you're claiming he's a knave instead of a fool? Good to know.

  • Brett L||

    Maybe he shouldn't sign a bill into law if he's uncomfortable with the content.

  • John||

    Pierce might just be the dumbest man in America, which puts him in the running for the dumbest man in the world.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    No kidding. Mentions the CIA but forgets to tar Woodward as a long time operative and calls the press treatment of Reagan a "dive".

    *cough* *cough*

  • Brandon||

    Two words, John: Nicholas. Kristof.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Ugh. Oregon's most embarrassing progeny since Randall Woodfield.

  • Matrix||

    That was me. I guess I was right... just a bit late to the party. Dang

  • RPR2||

    And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.

    you'll just have to pay a tax for that right.

  • db||

    It's a "Rights Maintenance Fee."

  • Drave Robber||

    Now how about Kyrzakhstan?

  • ||

    Dare to be Stupid

    Good job, Kerry.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Well, if there is anything Kerry knows about, it is being stupid...

  • db||

    The future's up to you
    So what you gonna do?

  • ||

    Put your head in the microwave and get yourself a tan

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not like these people write their own speeches. You give him too much credit.

  • Brandon||

    Could you see Hillary even reading this? She would've killed the staffer who handed it to her, and another just for kicks. Kerry, sadly, is a step up from the last dude. At least he just makes up countries, he hasn't yet had an American citizen arrested to cover his own ass.

  • $park¥||

    He just wants to make sure that the rebel horses forces are on the whinny winning side.

  • $park¥||

    In Syria, that is. How did I get here? Where is here? Am I alive?

  • sarcasmic||

  • ||

    His statements are not very on point with the administration in general. He'll have to have a talking to. But hey, a bright spot in this shithouse of an administration is a bright spot, no matter how small, and I'll take it.

  • Irish||

    I remember thinking the administration's cabinet had just gotten even worse when they downgraded from Hillary Clinton to John Kerry.

    Who would have thought John Kerry would be the only mildly reasonable person left working at the White House?

  • ||

    Actually, I was surprised he got nominated. The guy is a douche but he's not exactly a radical or an extremist. And he's old, senior, and rich enough to potentially ignore some of his marching orders. This could be interesting. Maybe Kerry can be the Pierce of the administration.

  • John||

    Maybe Kerry can be the Pierce of the administration.

    So it has come to this? Not saying you are wrong. But wow are times getting bad.

  • Killazontherun||

    To be honest, I did. Hillary is as much a celebrity as Obama, and she gets star treatment of 24/7 ego boost fuel. Every sentence out of her mouth was a full reality disconnect. There never has been any pressure on her to be the least bit sane. She went bat shit at the Benghazi hearing and somehow this went unnoticed by the media establishment.

    The press kind of hates Kerry, and enjoys ridiculing him. That alone will make him do the right thing on occasion. And whoever wrote his speech, that was a masterful description of the basic concept of not truly being free unless you are free to be wrong.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Not only do you have the right to be stupid, you have the right to expect the government to shield you from the effects of your stupid choices by giving you other people's money to make up for what you lost.

    The goal is a conseqence free-world, where 'citizens' are all just arrested adolescents, doing chores for their government parent and expecting in return to be taken care of in all respects - fed, sheltered, taken to the doctor - for their entire life.

  • ||

    "In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," he said, prompting laughter. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be."

    Yeah, Western Europeans eat that shit up, the implicit message being all those stupid redneck clingers which you enlightened pseudo-intellectual socialists here don't have to worry about. There's no bigger expert in the world on the backwardness of flyover country than a European socialist.

  • ||

    Why would you care what an anti-American European thinks? They're purely driven by envy and insecurity, and it's so obvious it might as well be written on their face. It's like caring what an anti-American Canadian thinks.

  • ||

    There's another element there, especially with the British, a pseudo-familiarity that breeds contempt.

    Because they watch so much American TV depicting stupid Americans they think that that's how Americans really are. Except for our enlightened liberal elites like John Kerry, of course, and even he is quite willing to acknowledge the stupidity of the underclass that continues to vote against enlightened folks such as himself.

  • ||

    And Americans watch Dr. Who, depicting stupid British scifi, and think that that's what British scifi really is, when there's Iain Banks and Neal Asher and Alistair Reynolds and Richard Morgan.

    The point is: who gives a shit?

  • John||

    The funny thing is that Europeans love the worst of American culture. Take the worst most annoying MTV show and it will be fucking huge in Europe. Bay Watch was for years the most popular television show in Europe. But they all act like they are superior culturally to America.

  • Zeb||

    They've got lots of old stuff and history and the pretty much ride that. I've seen TV in Europe. It's at least as ridiculous and dumb as American TV.

  • ||

    Yeah, but only idiots watch Dr Who. Well, and you, but then again, you're an idiot.

  • Zeb||

    I just watch old Doctor Who for the nostalgia.

  • ||

    I watch Doctor Who, but I don't inhale.

  • ||

    I haven't watched Dr. Who since 1987, you tool. Tom Baker! Tom Baker!

  • Zeb||

    John Pertwee, Tom Baker and Peter Davidson are all solid, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    I recognize the first two but who is Peter Davidson?

  • Zeb||

    "who is Peter Davidson?"

    Assuming this is a real question, he was Tom Baker's successor as the Doctor. He had the shortest run as the Doctor, and I think the best actor to play the role. Tom Baker was great as the Doctor, but if you've seen him in anything else, you will know that he is not generally a very good actor.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Uh, Peter Davidson?

    I'm not a big fan of the JNT-era. More of Jon Pertwee man myself. Wait...that didn't come out right.

    (I'll give you the John as that was his birth name.)

  • Zeb||

    Pertwee was definitely the manliest doctor. I think he might be my favorite as well.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I think the shortest run goes to Paul McGann (8th Doctor).

  • Zeb||

    Or are you just obliquely pointing out that I misspelled his name?

  • ||

    when there's Iain Banks and Neal Asher and Alistair Reynolds and Richard Morgan.

    Speaking of communist eurofags.

    I give a shit, because I live in Europe and often have to deal with these people. What the fuck is your point?

    The idiots on MSNBC are idiots, who gives a shit? Krugman is an intellectually dishonest piece of shit, who gives a shit? Michael Bay is a bad director, who gives a shit?

    What's your point? That this is all obvious and should be ignored?

  • ||

    That's exactly my point. Don't get pissy.

  • ||

    Who are you to judge what's pissy and what is manly venting you fucking cunt?

  • ||

    When your comments can be boiled down to "Fuck you!" you're being pissy.

  • Jordan||

    I've been wanting to read Asher's latest, but it's not out on Kindle yet. FFFFFUUUUUUU...

  • SugarFree||

    Zero Point?

  • Jordan||

    Departure, which apparently is not his latest, and is now out for Kindle. Sweet.

  • Zeb||

    Or just look at the Daily Mail links we are subjected too daily. At least half of it is about some stupid American doing something stupid. I think Episiarch is right. It's mostly envy and insecurity (especially now when their whole grand plan seems to be falling apart). Thinking about how dumb Americans are is a good way to make themselves feel better about how fucked they are.

  • ||

    I can talk all the shit I want about My Beloved America, but when some kind of fucking communist Eurofag does the same thing, it's clobberin' time.

    "The missiles are flying. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!"

  • John||

    Canadians. Canadians are the fucking worst. Meet a Canadian overseas sometime. They spent hours explaining to you how Canada is not the US and is so much better.

  • ||

    FUCKING DAGNY

  • ||

    I had a bunch of Canuck co-workers in Korea. They got to talking about how awful Americans are pretending to be Canadian when they travel. After a while I asked "How many of you have gotten hammered in a foreign country, gotten yourselves in trouble and pretended to be American to avoid the consequences?" All of them raise a hand. "So you fuck up and pretend to be American, worsening America's reputation, and Americans who are sensible enough to know that America has a bad reputation pretend to be Canadian and improve Canada's reputation. FUCK OFF." Another pitcher was ordered, topics were changed, America bitching declined precipitously.

  • ||

    Yes, this.

    My Swedish friends loved to bait Canadians into trashing Americans (fish in a barrel) and then someone would tell them I was American (not another Swede) and they would usually make some lame apology.

  • John||

    PS

    Here is what pisses me off about Europeans and Canadians in particular. When I am in Europe, I don't make it a habit to bring up the holocaust with my German or French friends. It is just bad taste to sit around and trash someone's country even if said country has done things like all countries that deserve trashing. But Europeans will do that with Americans all of the time. Fuck off and get some sense of propriety.

  • ||

    I don't know if that's entirely an anti-American thing, Europeans seem to enjoy fucking with each other too. I had drinks with some Bosniaks and a German once. One of the Bosniaks had just come back from Barcelona. The entire night was spent making jokes about the siege of Sarajevo, the lisp of Barthelonans, and getting Olga to admit that she needed to drink more because otherwise she'd be out killing Jews as a way to destress.

    A well-traveled Canadian acquaintance joked that "A Canadian is never more patriotic than when he's not in Canada." They are super-insecure that they're indistinguishable from Americans to foreigners.

  • ||

    Europeans seem to enjoy fucking with each other too.

    Yeah, that's also part of it. Hating, or at least taking the piss out of every other country is a European tradition. Especially with the Brits.

  • ||

    Yeah being an American AND a libertarian in Europe is basically like having a giant fucking target on your chest.

    Of course not everyone engages in this, and the Canadians do it much more than Europeans and with much less subtlety because they frankly tend to be less sophisticated.

    But, having dealt with it many times I find that they are quite taken aback by an American that can stand their ground, can turn the argument around with knowledge of Europe's failings and is essentially unrepentant doesn't adhere to some sort of typical right-left paradigm and can demolish them in an argument.

    The majority of Americans in Europe are guilty liberals who never bother to defend themselves.

  • John||

    PS

    Yup. You wouldn't believe the shock on the faces of my German friends when I explained to them that the reason why I couldn't import a car directly from Germany to the US is because the US demands that cars be made to a lower emissions standard. That just couldn't be true.

  • ||

    Yup. You wouldn't believe the shock on the faces of my German friends when I explained to them that the reason why I couldn't import a car directly from Germany to the US is because the US demands that cars be made to a lower emissions standard. That just couldn't be true.

    In my experience, the Germans engage in less knee-jerk America-bashing than most Europeans, partly because they are the Americans of Europe used to getting trashed by every other country, and partly because they are constantly Godwined. That's not to say I've not had to take shit from Germans, just much less shit.

  • John||

    Lower, I mean higher as in fewer emissions.

  • Timrek||

    Oh Great. I'm moving to Germany in about two months. A libertarian-American in Europe. I'll keep in touch to led everyone know how it goes.

  • Irish||

    They spend hours explaining to you how Canada is not the US and is so much better.

    I'm pretty sure this is racist Canadian code for 'We don't have dirty Mexicans or darkies up here.'

    Honestly, they're like 93 percent upper middle class white people. They also have minimal immigration, meaning they will remain upper middle class white people into the near future. Comparing them to America makes absolutely no sense, since the demographics are totally different. Why not compare them to places in America that are totally white and middle class, like Connecticut?

  • John||

    They never do that. They compare the whitest and richest areas of Toronto to Detroit and think Canada is just so much better.

  • Killazontherun||

    Episiarch, you are on fire today. And I mean that figuratively.

  • ||

    Oh man, I thought you were going to say literally and then I was going to have to drop and roll.

  • Killazontherun||

    If I went the other way I would have been repeating one of your best take downs of joe from years past. Other words, pulling a nicole and raping your mind.

  • Jordan||

    He literally meant it figuratively.

  • Killazontherun||

    The other day, I had a dream that was either a lucid dream or a dream of me thinking I was dreaming lucidly. I was out near the backfield examining some damaged trees when I realized it wasn't quite concurrent with reality. Am I dreaming? All right, this a dream, let's have some fun with it. I tried falling without hitting the ground. Didn't work. My legs refused to give out. Well then, lets go back to the house and observe myself dreaming.

    So I walk back to the porch, and Ben Affleck is standing near my grill. He sneers at me and says to me, 'you can't go in there and see yourself.'

    I ask why not. He answers, 'you are in a dream, this is not an out of body experience. You are mistaking the one for the other.'

    I'm like, 'oh.' I then congratulate him for his Oscar.

    He answers, 'Again, this is just a dream. I'm not really Ben Afleck.'

    I wanted to ask him about his next project, but kept quiet about it, given the pissy attitude. Decided I'll look it up on IMDB.

  • Almanian!||

    Dude, that's pretty fucked up. Please don't share any more of your dreams, mmmkay?

  • Killazontherun||

    Holy shit. This is like deja vu or something. I had another dream just last night where I shared the previous dream, and you commented on it with, 'Dude, that's pretty fucked up. Please don't share any more of your dreams, k'thnx?'

    Just one word different from what you actually wrote. However, in that dream by late afternoon, Jesse Walker was writing your obit. And the sad part, no one was sharing their memories of you.

  • ||

    So Kerry walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Hey John, why the long face?"

  • Sevo||

    And Kerry says "And with prices like that, you won't serve many more!"

  • Almanian!||

    "And he carefully wrung it out!"

    /just punchlines

  • ||

    Kerry seems to be stuck in some sort of Cold War loop. His style of diplomacy is a big departure from his last couple of predecessors. Kerry wants to put most of his eggs in the high-level face-to-face basket, with pitiful figureheads like Karzai or whatsisface in Iraq. Hillary and Condi both put quite a bit of effort into grassroots, hearts-and-minds style diplomacy. Since nobody actually likes and respects people like Karzai, I don't know how the State Dept can possibly contribute to keeping tensions with terrorists at at least a moderate level. If Kerry thinks grassroots efforts are useless and plans to spend all his time talking with banana republic puppets, he'll make himself look like the outdated dino he really is.

    But the grassroots stuff is not sexy and it does not project power, so there you go.

  • Killazontherun||

    Hillary and Condi both put quite a bit of effort into grassroots, hearts-and-minds style diplomacy.

    Interfering in the hornets nest of domestic politics has every bit the tendency of biting us on the ass as the more traditional approach of accepting whomever is on top as the person as the representative of a state's interest. The former approach was practically invented by well intentioned CIA internationalist out to win hearts and minds.

  • ||

    But at this point, unlike during the Cold War we're not really concerned with States. Iran and Nork, yes. But the major successes in diplomacy are going to come from getting everyday citizens on board with the whole "America! Fuck yeah!" schtick. People in Afghanistan care about whether the U.S or the Taliban are going to bomb their village today, not who Karzai is bullshitting with.

  • Killazontherun||

    Here is the problem with that. There are more states in existence now than at the end of the Cold War, and they are not going to be displaced anytime soon. That policy has a tendency to forget that democracy is mostly a symbolic facade, and where it isn't a facade, emphasis the worst aspects of the population on the ground. When you forget 'the people' are weak and try to set them against their governments, those in power tend to resent and remember it, and interstate tensions become escalated.

  • Killazontherun||

    whomever is on top as the person as the representative of a state's interest.

  • Mickey Rat||

    ""In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," he said, prompting laughter. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be."

    But through enlightened, progressive legislation like Obamacare, Obama and the Democrat Party are working tirelessly to end this sordid state of affairs.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement