On Lettuce Cutters and Serial Killers

Yesterday the Arizona Republic ran a column I wrote for their “Perspectives” section. The piece, which they entitled “The Job You Won’t Do,” riffs off some of my observations and experiences while cutting lettuce in Yuma. If you’re interested, you can read it at http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/viewpoints/articles/2010/03/14/20100314thompson14.html.

Since the Arizona Republic is published out of Phoenix, and Phoenix has some of the most noxious anti-immigrant activists in the country, I wasn’t surprised to get a few less than pleasant emails sent my way. This is completely normal: anyone writing sympathetically about immigrants is accustomed to receiving plenty of internet vitriol, which I’ve grown to appreciate as both a badge of honor and frequently entertaining reading.

So far, my favorite comment is from “John,” who wrote:

I just read your artical (sic) in the Az republic about lettuce pickers in Yuma. You seem to have made friends with them and understand their problems. Your (sic) an idiot! You could spend a summer on death row and would make friends there too. That wouldnt (sic) mean they are right in what they have done or are doing! Wake up!

Normally, I care as little about spelling and grammar as the next person, but if someone is going to call me an idiot then I’m going to let them know that “artical” is not a word. In fact, I’ve noticed that virtually all of the haters who take the time to email me have a serious spelling problem.

But his poor spelling and grammar really isn’t that interesting compared to the content. First, I really liked the juxtaposition of these two sentences: “You seem to have made friends with them and understand their problems. Your an idiot!”

Uh, what?

It all makes sense by the next line, though, when he equates lettuce cutters with death row inmates. I imagine he spent about 45 seconds thinking through his argument, and when his mind turned to Mexicans in the lettuce fields he flashed to convicted killers on death row. Of course.

Anyway, I just sent John the form letter I’ve created for people who hate me:

Dear John,

Glad you enjoyed the book–onward in the fight for justice for immigrants!

In Solidarity,
Gabriel Thompson



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2 responses to “On Lettuce Cutters and Serial Killers

  1. monica

    I know, I deal with this ignorance in Medford, Long Island, Suffolk County. Patience is the only way to survive out here.

  2. linda

    Maybe John just flashed on a chain-gang–which lettuce pickers might remind him of. I mean, why else would rational, normal people be out working in the midday sun in Yuma. Surely not voluntarily. Therefore the segue to death-row, imprisonment, and even idiocy.

    After all, it is, as your sub-title indicates, “work Americans won’t do.” And John is obviously a red-blooded American–one who, I’ll wager, eats more than his fair share of KFC and McNuggets, without ever thinking about where his food comes from or how it gets to his table.

    I enjoyed your interview on Book TV (broadcast from Changing Hands bookstore), and I look forward to reading your book(s) that I’ve ordered from Amazon.

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