straight edge parents wonder what’s wrong with their children. people wonder what these kids have to hide… there must be something wrong with them… why? because they look more scary than other youths? no! because they are more violent than others? no! because they praise a weird, new kind of god? no! but what is the reason??? the reason simply is – they live the “straight edge”. but what is “straight edge” exactly? the basic “definition” was created in the early 1980s in a hardcore-punk song of the washington d. c. and “minor threat” whose singer ian mackaye wrote a song about living a life without drugs – the song which included the six legendary words “don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck! ” – it was a song called “straight edge” – a song that gave a name to a new movement amongst the youth of then and preserved its fascination and attitude up to the new millennium. to explain the history of the term “straight edge” even a bit more precisely: the words became the meaning for after the drummer of minor threat saw the symbol of a straight edge on a poster and thought – only god knows why – it would be the perfect symbol for this new lifestyle. asically it was a thing about cleaning oneself. in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a big frustration in the punk scene worldwide. it was pretty much all about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll – and whoever wanted to be a real punk got drunk or stoned every time there was an opportunity. the problem was that the political backgrounds of punk became more and more unimportant, and people didn’t even have the power to be active anymore. the poison took their power. o some kids – especially in new york – rethought this whole punk-idea and decided for themselves not to participate in this organized chaos anymore – to resist against the peer pressure. to get clean and save their power for the fight to reach their ideals. the important thing which gave those kids the platform and power to start out their mission around the world was the music. fast punk. it was the new kind of punk. today we call it old-school hardcore. bands like minor threat, ssd and the teen idols were only some of the first straight edge bands. thousands of others followed their way. he music was the basis – but what was the background behind this “don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck! “? was it just a frustrated group of kids who wanted to get attention by living like askets? not at all… the part about the drinking and smoking is easy to understand. it means: “concentrate your power on the important things in life” – but what about the sex? why should people not be allowed to make love according to this lifestyle? well, that’s not quite what it was supposed to mean and still is: it is supposed to mean, that one shouldn’t have promiscuous sex – sleeping around every time one gets the chance. o pretending of love just to get sex. the reason for that is to show respect to others. not to see them as things. this is probably one of the most discussed about points of this whole definition. during the years some things changed. political engagement became en vogue – which is just too logic because the movement actually was born as an idea to strengthen the political power of each individual. respect of life also implies animal rights. that’s the reason for vegetarism and veganism being very wide spread in the scene. lot of the straight edge people are active in human and/or animal rights groups and support direct action. but then there is the bad side of the movement: in public straight edge is often regarded to be narrow-minded and egotistical. but – it is quite the opposite. the bad image occurred because some groups split off and gave the whole scene a really bad name: there was on the one hand a new important part for some groups: religion – which was completely against the basic idea and straight edge. to question norms and to find it’s own way of living. specially the big religious scene in the mormon area salt lake city / new mexico caused a lot of negative publicity. people supposedly even got killed there out of twisted and misunderstood straight-edge reasons. the problem there is the big connection between religion and straight edge there. the whole lifestyle isn’t against the norm there at all – mormons get raised there that way anyway – but the motives are completely different. so kids are much more likely to call themselves straight edge even though the basic idea is not going along with their backgrounds at all. nother huge negative movement out of the straight edge scene is shown by so-called “hardline”-straight edgers. mostly they are involved in the religion of islam (don’t ask about the reasons – it is totally incomprehensibly! ) and fight against anything “impure” and “unnatural” like abortion – most of them are real hardline pro-lifers – or homosexuality. there were also tendencies amongst right-wing groups who tried to adapt straight edge for their means. but they all just didn’t understand what straight edge is about… but straight edge is about tolerance, respect and activism. nyone who gets in touch will discover, that the letter or sign “x” has an important meaning. it dates back to the 1980s in new york when – like it was and is common in the united states – on concerts and shows underage kids got marked with a big “x” on the back of their hands so that they wouldn’t get alcohol to drink at the bar. older kids solidarized with them and marked their hands themselves – to show the don’t even want to drink. today a lot of people use the “x” in their names – like xsidx for example – wear it on shirts or as tattoos. lso the abbreviation sxe for straight edge is really popular and common. unfortunately a lot of kids see it as a cliquish and “cool” hing to be straight edge – but they won’t stay like that. they will live on their lives just like a lot of their “never-been-straight-edge“-fellows. it is important to develop ones own definition and style of straight edge. one has to live it. then it is the right decision and the appropriate lifestyle. then it is the “true till death” lifestyle – in contrast to “true till college” which characterizes the stylish kids mentioned before. he music changed a lot too. there is still a bunch of old-school bands but especially during the 1990s there emerged many sxe-bands that played all different styles of hardcore like the heavy-metal like hardcore or the softer emo-core. it is impossible to still find names for the style of every band – the variety is just too big. important are still the hardcore shows were kids from all over meet, trade records, and just hang out. the scene is pretty much selfly-sufficient too. here’s kids who publish (mostly still vinyl) records for young bands – others who have little mail orders and distributions to sell and trade tapes, records and cds, some kids organize shows for bands (even from overseas), and others who even buy vegan food you cannot get here abroad and sell it to the kids. all “do-it-yourself” (= diy). all anti-capitalist. straight edge is nothing suspicious. straight edge is personal choice. straight edge is the decision to find ones own norms. straight edge is support for weak and disadvantaged beings. straight edge is the attempt to make the world a better place!
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