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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).
In the libertarian movement
In the domain of libertarian philosophy, the primary concern of civil libertarians is the relationship between government and individuals. In theory, civil libertarians seek 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 any disadvantages, and that the coercion of speech is inherently wrong.
Other civil libertarian positions may include support for full or partial legalization of illicit substances, prostitution, privacy, assisted dying or euthanasia, the right to keep and bear arms, youth rights, topfree equality, separation of church and state, full or partial opposition to involuntary commitment and outpatient commitment, and support for same-sex marriage.
With the advent of personal computers, the Internet, email, cell phones and other advancements in information technology, a subset of civil libertarianism has arisen that focuses on protecting individuals' digital rights and privacy.
- Massaro, Toni M. (1991). "Equality and Freedom of Expression: The Hate Speech Dilemma". William and Mary Law Review. 32 (2): 211–265.