Via Slashdot, I found an interesting article called Why Apple fans hate tech reporters. The basic premise is that when people are really rabid about an idea -- the merits of a certain product, religion, or political stance -- they perceive even-handedness as an insult. In other words, if I think you're completely wrong/evil/whatever, and someone else comes along and doesn't immediately leap to my side, I'll feel like they're siding with you.
Interesting. Disturbing. This is apparently just part of human nature, because I've certainly seen it before in life, though I'd never thought much about it until WSJ columnist Walt Mossberg pointed it out. It's particularly troubling for me, because I tend to avoid political conflict by remaining neutral. Go ahead, ask me what I think about abortion or Israel or Global Warming -- I'm not going to debate those things with anybody, at least not at present.
There are many conflicts in the world, a great many of which affect me, but I am not enough of an expert on them to feel like I can take a meaningful stance. On those issues with which I do have first-hand experience (the need for helmets on bicyclists, issues with violence in schools) I'll definitely speak out. I know it's more popular for people to have ardent opinions on anything and everything, but that's never sat well with me. I've always been a moderate, only taking one side or the other when I feel particularly informed or knowledgeable about the issue.
And now I discover that even moderation is likely to drag me into ideological scuffles I want no part of. How the heck does Switzerland do it? Oh, well, life wouldn't be interesting without conflict.