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- Straight Edge An Outline -

Straight Edge began in the early 80’s, the philosophy spanning and then diversifying from a song by the band Minor Threat, never meaning to start what effectively became a revolution.

The basic tenet of the philosophy centred on the issue of self-control. Straight Edge is abstinence from all narcotics (alcohol / tobacco / drugs).

The song Out Of Step (With The World) written by Ian Mackaye eschewed the nihilistic tendencies of punk rock, promoting the simplistic message “don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck at least I can fucking think” The band also wrote the song Straight Edge which is where the name comes from.

Out Of Step (With The World) - From The “In My Eyes” EP 1981

(I) Don't smoke
Don't drink
Don't fuck
At least I can fucking think

I can't keep up,
Can't keep up
Can't keep up
Out of step with the world

Straight Edge – From The “Minor Threat” EP 1981

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and fuck my head
Hang out with the living dead
Snort white shit up my nose
Pass out at the shows
I don't even think about speed
That's something I just don't need


I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and smoke dope
'Cause I know I can cope
Laugh at the thought of eating ludes
Laugh at the thought of sniffing glue
Always gonna keep in touch
Never want to use a crutch


“People over time finding themselves increasingly disenchanted with societal ills, began to adopt the Straight Edge doctrine as a blueprint to better first themselves, and then the world in which they lived. While the original definition of Straight Edge only included the rejection of mind altering substances and promiscuous sex.”
(There are no dietary or religious beliefs tied into what constitutes being straight edge contrary to media coverage of the subject)

Modern interpreters have suggested also vegetarianism, veganism, celibacy, religion and an increasing involvement and awareness of environmental and political issues but these essentially have nothing to do with the lifestyle they are separate choices, being Straight Edge means being DRUG FREE (A LIFETIME COMITMENT)

In America a common practice (in the late 80’s) at all-ages punk shows was to mark minors with an "X" on their hands so they couldn't buy alcohol. As the Straight Edge philosophy grew popular, kids who were older than 21 (Or 18 like here in the UK) but didn't drink for ideological reasons started to mark themselves with the X in a show of solidarity. The X today is widely used as a sort of a nametag for straight edge kids. A symbol for drug free pride displayed proudly on clothing and other items making it easy for Straight Edge kids to identify with each other.

While its detractors often claim that Straight-Edger’s are no more than suburbanite, cliquish fashion victims, few can argue that the X logo is still a valid symbol of unity, which is what it is men’t to represent.

Straight Edge is more than a word, It's using the clarity of mind to become an effective revolutionary; a positive peer pressure, your parents will tell you to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and the initial reaction to that is to rebel, go out and do those things that they don't want you doing.

But when you see your peers up on stage spreading this positive message, singing fast aggressive music, your opinion can change, the idea of not doing these things can stick in there and that is how I first heard about it from going to shows and listening to straight edge hardcore bands. Aside from straight edge bands many hardcore bands usually have straight edge members too.

In a way it's sad because there are situations of kids with alcohol problems and drug addictions who pursued that because of societal peer pressure.

Straight Edge is more than just a lifestyle to me, Straight Edge is family; the whole hardcore scene is in all retrospect. I mean for example if you are in a band and you are looking for support from the scene but you are not seen to be supporting it then the scene will not support you.

 It's a lot more productive to have a clear head than to just go out, get wasted and forget about what's going on in the world. It should make people think twice about what they are getting themselves involved in and these drugs they are taking, alcohol, tobacco or whatever. They only serve to hinder your existence rather than improve it.

It is taken to the point where people are no longer capable of being without their “comfort drug” when things are a little rough-at a time when a clear head would help the most.

Straight Edge is not a violent movement* and it's not about enforcing opinion most violent behaviour is brought about by intoxication.

Straight Edge & the hardcore scene for the most part is against violence of any kind, kids who encourage violence are usually shunned or if at shows kicked out

Never back down and don’t let anyone spit on your lifestyle you know? Be it Edge or whatever take pride in what you do and how you do it. It doesn’t have to ever result in violence; more can be achieved through the power of spoken word & printed text.

At the end of the day people should be able to live the way they want to, who is to say what is right and what is wrong? Straight Edge has nothing to do with being better than anyone else which is another misconception about the subject that always pops up, a personal choice to improve oneself. I’m not saying I’m better, I’m not passing judgement, I’m not saying get in to it or else it’s just my personal choice.

The ironic thing is being punk means to get away from the norm and yet these punk kids are doing exactly what every other young person does, they go out and get drunk.
There is always going to be a different way of conducting oneself, the irony of the situation was if they wanted to get away from the norm, to be individual, the clean living lifestyle should have been the only option. It is my only option.

X Straight Edge means I am Drug Free For Life X

Article By Phil Wilkey. Contact: straightedgephil@hotmail.com
©2008 Phil Wilkey.

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