I am trying to study for my Social Studies 30-1 Diploma Exam. One part of the exam will require me to analyse a source. A source example I am reading shows a picture of the words liberty, justice, freedom and equality. Some letters have been cut out of these words to form the word security. My interpretation of the source is giving up some liberty, freedom, equality, and justice in order to get security. My question is: Why would giving up some freedom, liberty, justice, and equality be necessary in order to obtain security?

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    Security is a matter of protection from other people's choice of behaviour, and to achieve this someone must be empowered to participate in the protecting. From this alone, you should be able to infer how at least two of the three liberal virtues are undermined by prioritising security. Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 2:31
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    Yes, if that is the only way to achieve security, then does one have to give up some justice, too? That just doesn't make sense to me. There is fair, and there's unfair; there is no in between. So, perhaps the source is illogical?
    – Kelsey
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 2:54
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    Agreed that justice should be something that need not be sacrificed in order to have security, but where then does the author intend to find the letter "s" in order to make the intended point.
    – KnightHawk
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 18:01
  • I realise I'm late for your exam, Kelsey, but @knighthawk I wouldn't dismiss justice so quickly in this source. Justice would determine that we not deny a person asylum or entry to our country based on their ethnicity, and yet we regularly sacrifice this justice in order to prioritise security. Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 8:38

4 Answers 4


I think one answer is that people are fearful. Others having liberty (to do something others don't like), freedom (to protest what others respect), equality (mixed cultures when others prefer conformity), and justice (which sometimes lets the guilty go free) may make many fearful, for example from the parentheticals I provided.

I happen to agree with Benjamin Franklin: "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither", but lots of people are very willing to do this out of fear. It's a big problem, in my view, and drives lots of unfortunate political behavior.


One person's freedom and liberty ends abruptly where that of another person's begins. Historically we have had to give up some measure of freedom in order to limit others from the ability of abusing their freedom to cause harm. That has long been the argument.

I believe that in this particular instance the words equality and justice were added simply to assist in making a point and to gather the required letters to spell security.


My question is: Why would giving up some freedom, liberty, justice, and equality be necessary in order to obtain security?

I would not be surprised if you completely misunderstood the assignment, especially because of Ben Franklin's often-cited old chestnut that "those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

The source example you quote might as well have been intended to visualize how liberty, justice, freedom and equality are prerequisites for security.


Two of these are easy to respond to: If everyone had 100% liberty and/or freedom, they would be free to steal from you, kill you, or otherwise harm you. So in order to give you security/protection from harm, we have to curtail this hypothetical person's liberty/freedom.

Equality should not need to be sacrificed for security. It should be possible to limit each person's freedoms equally to provide equal security for each person. It is possible to sacrifice security for equality (steal from the rich to give to the poor), or allow inequality to pursue more security, but shouldn't be necessary.

I don't see how Justice fits here at all. Improving Security across the board should increase Justice. Even at some extreme end, where we imprison everyone in their own little boxes in order to protect everyone from everyone else, if we are doing this across the board, it is still "just".

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