- (Photo: REUTERS)
John Kerry has said Americans have a "right to be stupid," as the new U.S. Secretary of State offered a defense of freedom of speech, religion and thought to German students in Europe on Tuesday.
Kerry told the German students, "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."
He added, "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," he said to the laughter of the students. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be."
The Secretary of State also said, "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."
The speech to the German students came in Berlin, which is the second stop on his inaugural tour as the new United States Secretary of State - a position he took up on Feb. 1.
His first stop was to London, and he will continue on from Berlin to Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Despite visiting the Middle East he will not tour the Israel and Palestinian regions, but instead will return to Washington on March 6. It is believed that he will tour Israel and Palestine later this year with President Barack Obama.