Although virtually everyone claims to be a friend of liberty in the abstract, many turn out to be only fair-weather friends in the concrete. Although most Americans willingly pledge allegiance to their flag and to the liberty and justice for which it stands, all too frequently the very values the flag supposedly symbolizes are lost sight of in the heat of controversy. This is especially true of liberty. Liberty enables people to act in ways others cannot control. People are left free to act in ways that some might find repulsive, immoral, and subversive. Too often, those affronted react by trying to limit liberty itself.
Thus, fundamentalist religious groups have tried, with some success, to eliminate from the public schools those textbooks that do not support certain religious and political values. Similarly, guardians of the public's virtue have tried and continue to try, again with some success, to remove controversial books from library shelves. Throughout our history, those who have dissented from official policy often have been faced with economic and even physical retaliation.
Other problems concerning liberty arise, even if those involving its infringement are ignored. Thus, even the staunchest friends of liberty disagree over its scope and limits. Your liberty to swing your arm may end where your neighbor's nose begins. But should you be free to take high