Things That Are Evil

By Warren Holleman
Originally posted November 19, 2015. Revised and updated periodically since then.

When I hear this phrase, the first things I think of are unmitigatingly evil people: Hitler, Stalin, Slobodan Milošević, Osama bin Laden. And, unmitigatingly evil groups of people: the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Boko Haram, ISIS.

Moving over to our side of the pond, the first thing that comes to mind is the Ku Klux Klan. I grew up in the South, and these guys have committed a thousand-fold more terrorist atrocities on American soil than “radical Islamic terrorism” ever will. Next, I think of other home-grown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Westboro Baptist Church.

After that, Philip Morris and rest of the tobacco industry rise to the top of my list. They have knowingly killed millions more than Hitler, Stalin, and the Khmer Rouge combined.

These are what Louie from Casablanca might call “the usual suspects,” and they are all truly evil. They go straight to hell.

But . . . I’m wondering who else and what else deserves an Honorable Mention. Things many folks view as okay, or downright good, but, upon further reflection, have a definite dark side. Things we overlook because they seem so normal. Wolves that dress themselves up in sheep’s clothing. These are the things we encounter every day, take for granted, and let fly under the moral radar.  Things like . . .

  • The so-called “Food” Industry (Their mantra: Bigger, Crunchier, Saltier, and Sweeter. More Calories, More Carbs, More Fat. Corn Syrup for the Masses! Make America Great–as in Great Big! Supersize Me? Are they referring to the cup, my body, or both? This industry is the reason we have an obesity epidemic and a diabetes epidemic and outrageously high health expenditures. They are the reason why one in three children born after the year 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. They are destroying our country and they won’t stop until they destroy the world with their fake food and their shameless, nonstop advertising to children. Instead of selling food, they sell food-like products, so I refuse to call them by their chosen name. In my book, they’re the Fake Food Industry.)
  • Big Pharma (You guys should have a special place in hell. You price gouge those who are most vulnerable. You advertise directly to consumers to raise profits at the price, to patients and doctors, of bad medical decision-making. You charge a ridiculously high price in one country and a fraction of that price in another. Sick people die because they can’t afford your inflated prices. You play the violin while driving up costs and causing the whole health care system to crash. And rather than challenging the causes of chronic disease–such as obesity and the fake food industry–you shamelessly profit from them. You “feed” off of them. Get it?)
  • Smart phones. Done! 11/7/2016
  • Multi-tasking. Done! 11/7/2016
  • New Year’s resolutions. Done! 12/9/2015
  • Blanket tax breaks for churches (Have you ever visited the so-called “Family Life Centers” of mega-churches? Since when did an exclusive health clubs become a charity? Have you seen the CEO, er, pastor’s house? Car? Let’s call them what they are: for-profit corporations, not eleemosynary organizations.)
  • American football (Prediction: our grandchildren will view this the way we view the gladiator fights of ancient Rome)
  • Diet sodas and low-calorie fake foods (My intuition tells me it’s safer to eat dirt than to put a high school chemistry experiment inside my body: phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, artificial coloring . . .)
  • Fruit juices (Anita Bryant had it backwards. She said being gay was not part of the natural order of things, then told us to drink orange juice. Actually, orange juice is what’s unnatural! A glass of orange juice has just as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola. So Anita, it turns out that God likes gay people after all, but He says your orange juice is an abomination!)
  • Salad bars (Watch what people select, and you’ll see what I mean)
  • Convenience (Convenience stores, fast food, on-site parking, drive thrus)
  • Sports fans (Definition of a sporting event: “20,000 people who are desperately in need of exercise, sitting for 3 hours while consuming 500-1000 calories, and watching a small group of young men or women who are desperately in need of rest.”)
  • Driving while intexticated (or walking, working, living)
  • In the professional world
    • Sitting (It truly is the new smoking.) Done! 09/23/2015.
    • Escalators, elevators (they take us where we want to go–but at what price?)
    • Acronyms  Done! 4/23/2016
    • Shoes with heels (Yes, I’ve read Born to Run.)
    • Email OCD (aka FOMO)
    • Taking notes on an IPad (it dumbs you down)
    • “Data driven” decision-making (what if the data is bad? or irrelevant? or not the most important criteria?)
    • “New normals” (have you noticed they are always higher?)
  • In the world of healthcare
    • Big Pharma (tv commercials that remind me of the snake oil ads of the 19th century)
    • Productivity quotas, “targets,” “industry standards,” “workforce members”
    • Big Pharma (“Tell your doctor about ______ (drug)” Really? Is that what we’ve come to? Medicine is supposed to be “A method of healing based on science.” This turns it into “a method of making money (for pharmaceutical companies) based on slick advertising.”)
    • “Evidence-based” medicine, “evidence-based” mental health treatment (Sounds good, but not everything that heals is measurable.)
    • Big Pharma (I can no longer watch a sports event on tv with my kids because they throw up every time a Viagra or Cialis commercial comes on.)
  • In the “Online” world
    • “Offline” (“I met my boyfriend/girlfriend offline” or “I’d rather discuss this offline.”) The presumption is that we live our lives “online” and “offline” is now the exception?
    • “Real time” (Microsoft Word 2011 describing its special features: “Collaborate in real time.” Duhhh. Talk to each other?) (What is the opposite of “real time”? Unreal time?)
    • Spell check (Proof-reading has become a lost art. I just got an E-vite to a “Desert Holiday Gathering” in which we are all asked to “Bring your favorite desert!” Hmmm. Anybody know a good recipe for a Sahara Cream Pie? How about some Mojave Bundt Cake? OMG! My spell check is telling me that “Bundt” isn’t a word. I guess I’ll be bring “bunt” cake instead. Not sure that will be a very big “hit” at the Holiday Desert Party. LOL!!!)
    • Emoticons 😉
    • LOL (Don’t get me started on this one.)
  • Fake food (Sodas, chips, all that stuff you see in “convenience” stores. The so-called food industry calls it “processed food.” C’mon, people! If it’s processed, it ain’t food! Let’s call it what it is: “imitation food” or “food-like product.” And it’s not just in convenience stores. It’s 40% of the “food” you find in regular grocery stores. And then we wonder why we have obesity and diabetes epidemics! It’s time we stopped “sugar-coating” the problem, stopped calling it a tasty treat, and call it was it really is: a prescription for obesity and diabetes. And that makes it . . . evil!
  • In the world of politics and cable “news”
    • Fake news (Speaking of fake food made me hungry . . . for some good ol’ fake news! Perhaps you see it as just a way to stir up a conversation on Facebook: “Hey, everybody, we’re reading stuff that isn’t actually true but reinforces our prejudices about our political opponents and religious, ethnic, or racial groups we don’t like! We’re stirring up fear and hatred and incivility! Isn’t that fun?!” No, it’s stupid and it’s evil. It can destroy a democracy–especially when the leading purveyor of fake news (Steve Bannon) gets rewarded with a leadership role in the administration of the one his lies helped elect. [And I wish that was fake news, but it isn’t.] Learn to use your brain, people. Learn about the sociology of knowledge and it’s capacity to build walls around communities rather than bridges between them. And if you can’t or won’t do that, at least check things out on before spreading lies around the world-wide web.)
    • Politicians full of Moral fervor and righteous indignation (It’s usually bigotry wearing a disingenuous disguise.) Done! 4/23/2016
    • “Fair and balanced” (if you have to say you are, you probably aren’t)
    • The notion that “conservative” and “liberal” are incompatible or opposite
  • Dogs on leashes (this will take some explaining)
  • Bagels and whole wheat bread (so will this)
  • Farting on elevators (but not this)
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream (speaking of sacred cows . . .)
  • Pseudo-exercise (golfing w/ a golf cart, jet-skiing, 4-wheeling, snowmobiling, zip-lining)
  • Daytime TV, especially in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, car repair shops, etc.
  • Spell check (I wish I had saved the bloopers over the years–I’d have a best seller. Here’s the one I did save. The email was from a male colleague–a psychiatrist in fact–who was inviting me to speak to the clinical fellows of his hospital. But it took me a while to figure that out, because . . . well, I’ll let you see: I love the way you present yourself. It will be really good for the phallus.)
  • Oh, and did I mention the pharmaceutical industry?

This is my list, so far, of “Things That Are Evil.” If I’ve offended you–good! Let me know and we’ll discuss — perhaps even . . . Offline. And, in Real Time! And if you’ve got others you’d like to add to the list, send them to me and I’ll post.


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