James Burke had this splendid television series called Connections. Every episode he would walk you through a weird and wild chain of events and inventions that led to some modern technological advancement. Imagine the Moon landing of 1969 only being made possible because of some fourteenth-century monk’s desire to make beer more efficiently. That’s the type of story he told week in and week out, and it was fascinating.
So, let me take you on a similar journey about why tomatoes make me think of persecution.
Way back in late 2014 I was quite active on Twitter. I amassed a following of seven or eight hundred people and I followed about six hundred. Not a huge sphere of influence by any stretch, but not nothing either. In addition to people I knew in real life, I followed all the political parties and their leaders for Canada as well as Ontario. I am active politically, I care about democracy in my country (and elsewhere) and want nothing more than for it to be a fair and representative system for the people participating in it.
That said, I can be very passionate in my opinions and I acknowledge that sometimes that emotional investment does not always positively further debate and some find it offputting. I can be talked off my outrage cliff easily enough, but if someone doesn’t have the energy or desire to call me out on that and instead just walks away I understand.
With that in mind, let me tell you about this person we’ll call “Pierre”. I was introduced to him at a regular social event and he seemed like a nice enough fella. We decided to “do lunch” after a couple of times running into each other at this event. Not halfway through the lunch, he busts out a multi-level marketing scheme.
I took his materials and gave him the token, “I’ll for sure look into this,” before tossing them in my recycling bin as soon as I got home. We did keep in touch though and saw each other around town a few times. Even then I wouldn’t have said we were friends but instead would have defined us as friendly acquaintances.
Then the prospect of a Canadian federal election happened. At that time, Stephen Harper was the Prime Minister and he was behaving like a real piece of shit, leaning into very anti-democratic ideals (muzzling scientists whose research contradicted Conservative ideology, limiting voting rights, committing and defending election fraud, and my personal favourite, destroying science and research books because they didn’t have anywhere to put them). He was also into heavily divisive politics (keep in mind this was right as the U.S. election was set to turn the political landscape on its head).
Pierre’s Twitter feed got decidedly pro-Stephen Harper Conservative. Ugh.
One day we got into it and after a little back-and-forth, I made the jump and invoked Godwin’s Law.
Instead of addressing the merits of my claim (which I was fully prepared to argue properly since I know well enough I was being hyperbolic in my comparison), he replied with a “very fine people on both sides” sort of comment. This was a couple of years before the village idiot Oompa Loompa used the phrase but that was the underlying argument he came back with and it was then I decided that this wasn’t a person I wanted in my life. So, I unfollowed him from Twitter and took him out of my friend list on Facebook.
Immediately thereafter he sent me a message on Facebook railing about how he was being persecuted, which tracked rather nicely with all the other “arguments” he attempted since there is this tendency for certain people to extend the definition of “persecution” to include individuals who simply don’t want to hear their crap anymore. It’s laughable that his sense of entitlement led him to believe that every other human on the planet owed him an audience.
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”Emerson
Here’s a pro tip for anyone improperly playing the persecution card: No one owes you shit, you’re not being “cancelled”, and you’re certainly not being persecuted simply because a random citizen decides to remove you and your bullshit opinions from their line of sight.
To say that Pierre isn’t a fan would be a gross understatement. I’ve never seen anyone hate a specific food with the intensity of this guy. My son’s deathly allergic to peanuts and I’ve never even seen him emotionally collapse the way Pierre does at the mere mention of tomatoes. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone hate anything as much as he claims to hate them. His is a completely unhinged, visceral reaction that legitimately has me concerned for any wait staff that mistakenly hands him a plate with so much as a single cherry tomato on top.
It comes up because I can’t look at a tomato without thinking about Pierre, his watered-down whiny definition of persecution, and his pyramid scheme. It also happens that this past weekend I made salsa. I sliced, peeled, crushed, and drained close to 150 tomatoes and with each one I giggled maniacally at the thought of Pierre sitting in front of a plate of them while being forced to watch clips of Justin Trudeau.
Persecution salsa for the win.
Edit: I dug up the original email he sent me and he used the word “prosecution” instead of “persecution”, which just makes this even more hilarious. Just thought I would share.