There was a worthwhile general knowledge quiz in The Times last week with a strong British cultural slant. The questions were frequently tricky or esoteric, but many of them were satisfyingly difficult while remaining just possible. In short, I considered it the most interesting such quiz that I have encountered for a while. I scored 22/75 - and even that was scoring one question correct for which I disagreed with the printed answer. (This score should be pretty easy to beat for folks in my Friends list, not least because you are - in the main - extremely knowledgeable.) Fans of the genre, particularly British ones, may well enjoy the questions, the answers and the commentary thereupon. Usual caveats for pages from The Times: the links are likely to expire on Wednesday, may require free subscription from within the UK and may require non-free subscription from without the UK.
So to the meat of the post. Some people who (and whose opinions) I respect greatly on my Friends list are posting strong attacks on George W. Bush based on his record and attitudes towards gay marriage, and that has got me thinking.
I consider myself a reasonable man. I consider myself neither conservative nor Conservative and will tend to vote for the Liberal Democrats, sometimes the Green Party, sometimes Labour. (I did vote for a now-deceased Conservative councillor once, but she proved herself a highly effective and obliging public servant in our one direct interaction with her.) Additionally, I like to consider myself open-minded and somewhat empathetic towards minority rights. I am (to some extent) able to recognise and despise bigoted and prejudiced behaviour, and I get upset when I recognise it within myself and seek to change it. To translate my experiences into a form with which most of my Friends list are familiar, my enjoyment of the UK game show fandom - probably my core fandom at heart - has been distinctly diminished by the fact that someone who has been accepted as a Big Name Fan is a comedian who has no compunction about cracking many jokes I consider distasteful and backing them up with attitudes and self-justifications I cannot accept.
All well, good and self-aggrandizing. Here's the crux of the matter.
Much as I have some understanding of some minority rights issues and support for some minority rights causes, I do not feel that human rights and civil liberties are by far and away the most important single issues in politics today. If it were to come down to it, I really would be prepared to overlook a political party's views on human rights if I were strongly in favour of their economic policies relative to the others on offer.
Indeed, I have a vague perception that in the relatively few occasions where charities have offended me with the message that they are trying to promote, they have been human rights and civil liberties ones. (This is so non-specific to be almost meaningless, I fear, but it's the way I feel.)
What am I missing? Why am I wrong? Why are human rights and civil liberties not just a reasonably important issue but by far and away the most important issues in politics today? What do I fail to understand? Why should I be an activist?
Challenge my assumptions! Convince me! Educate me, please!