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Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation, social norms imposed through peer pressure and so on). Civil libertarianism is not a complete ideology—rather, it is a collection of views on the specific issues of civil liberties and civil rights.
In the libertarian movement
In the domain of libertarian philosophy, the primary concern of the civil libertarian is the relationship of the government to the individual. In theory, the civil libertarian seeks to restrict this relationship to an absolute minimum in which the state can function and provide basic services and securities without excessively interfering in the lives of its citizens. One key cause of civil libertarianism is upholding free speech. Specifically, civil libertarians oppose bans on hate speech and obscenity. Although they may or may not personally condone behaviors associated with these issues, civil libertarians hold that the advantages of unfettered public discourse outweigh all disadvantages.
Other civil libertarian positions include support for at least partial legalization of illicit substances (marijuana and other soft drugs), privacy, assisted dying or euthanasia, the right to bear arms, topfree equality, a strong demarcation between religion and politics and more recently support for same-sex marriage.
In the past twenty years, with the advent of personal computers, the Internet, email, cell phones and other information technology advances a subset of civil libertarianism has arisen that focuses on protecting individuals' digital rights and privacy. The organization most closely affiliated with this sort of civil libertarianism is the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- Civil and political rights
- Civil liberties
- Massaro, Toni M. (1991). "Equality and Freedom of Expression: The Hate Speech Dilemma". William and Mary Law Review. 32 (2): 211–265.