Secretary of State John Kerry offered a defense of freedom of speech, religion and thought in the United States on Tuesday telling German students that in America “you have a right to be stupid 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. In American 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."
President Barack Obama on Friday announced the nomination of U.S. Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, calling him the “perfect choice” to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.
Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration as U.S. secretary of state on Thursday in the face of what promised to be a difficult Senate confirmation battle.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a close confidante of President Barack Obama, said she was withdrawing from the process to avoid a lengthy, costly and disruptive confirmation battle.
"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country," she wrote in a letter to Obama.
Doodles are scribbled onto the first page of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech during a Security Council meeting to discuss Peace and Security in the Middle East during the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012. [REUTERS/Lucas Jackson]
Developing: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on all nations to place travel bans and freeze the assets of senior Syrian officials. Clinton also called on nations to boycott Syrian oil and suspend new investments.
Clinton said the Syrian government and allied states will have “even more blood on their hands” if aid is not allowed into the country, and said Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad will pay a “heavy price” for violating the rights of the Syrian people.