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THE RIGHT TO BE STUPID

Courtesy of Esquire Magazine

Deyan Ranko Brashich

In America You Have the Right to Be Stupid” – John Kerry, Secretary of State,February 26, 2013in a Speech in Berlin, Germany.

Enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence is that some truths are self-evident, that all men are created equal, that the Creatorhas endowed Americans with certain “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.Secretary of State John Kerry has just declared that Americans have the “right to be stupid- if [they] want to be”.

Besides the Declaration of Independence’s unalienable rights, the United States Constitution assures Americansof certain alienable rights found in the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments, subject to political whims of the day.

The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and assures Americans the free exercise thereof unless, until recently, you were an Indian wanting to indulge in peyote [1978], a 75 million year old Church of Scientology Thetan claiming a tax deduction[1993] or, now [2013], a Mormon wanting to indulge in God sanctioned polygamy.

The right of Americans to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances is guaranteed,unless you were the Chicago “7” and protested the Republican National Convention in Chicago in ’68 or did so in New York in ’04.

America’s freedom of speech is likewise not to be abridged or curtailed. Tell that to Eugene Debbs, the labor leader and Presidential candidate, who advocated resistance to the military draft during World War I, a “traitor to his country” said President Woodrow Wilson, which got him a 10 year stretch in the slammer.

The Fourth Amendment assures the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” except when authorized by a secret Foreign Intelligence Act Court and physical and electronic surveillance, searches of homes and businesses by law enforcement without the owner’s permission or knowledge, the use of National Security Letters allowing the search of telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order, and the expanded access to business records, including library and financial records, all allowed by the Patriot Act.

The rights to a speedy and public trialby an impartial jury,notice of the nature and cause of the accusation,confrontation by witnesses, assistance of counsel, due process are spelled out in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. I don’t think the guys cooling their heels in Guantanamo or Osama bin Laden, indicted by a Grand Jury in a federal court in New York, killed in Pakistan, would agree.

The Presidents of the United States, Bush and Obama, have been given the right to execute American citizens abroad by extra judicial killing, without the benefit of a trial, or for that matter any judicial process, if deemed expedient and necessary by “an informed, high level official of the US government [and] that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat”.

Unmanned drones and missiles do not discriminate between citizens, terrorists and innocent civilians, nor do they recognize national or international borders.

Unlike the foregoing, America’s right to be stupid is an unalienable right. It doesn’t disappear nor can it be abridged. You can’t legislate stupidity out of existence, nor can you be immunized from its reach with yearly flu shots.The “No Child Left Behind” and the “Head Start” programs, while developing basic skills and remedies forlow income systemic poverty, do not address stupidity.

In America, Kerry said “we tolerate [the right to be stupid].” “Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for” he added.Stupidity knows no bounds, be it race, religion or economic standing. Stupidity is here to stay and Americans have exercised this God given righttime and again, more so recently.

America nominated Sarah Palin for Vice President, whose foreign policy expertise was premised on the fact that “you can actually see Russia, from land, here in Alaska” and that “obviously we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies”. Senate candidates and a Vice Presidential one wrestled with “rape” and “forcible rape” issues, including the notion that “pregnancy from rape is something God intended.” If those were not enough, a sitting Congressman, with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, then sitting on the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, running for Senate, said that “[i]f it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”.

The above examples of America’s stupidity were not elected to office. But a number of others of like mindset were and are now sitting in Congress. Stupidity, that unalienable American right, is what elected them to office time and again, and keeps them there, term after term. Stupidity with its brothers, cupidity and vanity, is what has paralyzed the Congress of the United States and has put the world in jeopardy.

Unlike John Kerry I don’t think stupidity is worth fighting for. I do not think that it is a virtue, nor should it be tolerated. On the contrary, stupidity should to be run out of town, especially out of Washington, D. C., including John Kerry.

DeyanRankoBrashich, an attorney and Op-Ed columnist, resides in and writes from New York City. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com.

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