Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day of Birth :D and "Straight Edge" ...

Today is my birthday! It's a significant one - 21. Tonight we are doing a pub crawl of downtown Greensboro. It should be really awesome. Suzi organized and mapped it out.

Well, all this thinking about drinking legally added to the special that we just watched about the "straight edge" movement kind of got me thinking. The special we saw just kind of explained what it means to be straight edge, and then explained some of the issues involved and connected to it. I only have a few minutes before my class starts, but I just wanted to make a few points.

First of all, I think that the idea behind "straight edge" is interesting and intrinsically good. I mean, the fact that they are choosing not to drink or do drugs or "poison" their body at all is, I guess, good (for them). If that's their decision than kudos to them for being proud of it and finding others who are proud of it as well.

However, I do see a problem with the fact that many groups of "straight edge" people have become sort of small gangs. Why does "straight edge" have to be connected to violence? In the special it noted that many straight edge people are not violent at all, and not involved in these gangs. Which is great, but for the ones who are ... If you're choosing this "healthier" and non-conformist lifestyle, why would you begin to use violence to get your point across? They mentioned an incident that happened in Reno, NV a few years ago, where a man came out of a bar with a beer in his hand, and he was immediately jumped by 3 members of a straight-edge gang and beaten unconscious. He will feel the effects of his beating for the rest of his life, as it damaged his brain. Why is that necessary??

I knew a few straight-edge people in high school, and they were never violent or involved in any sort of gang activity. They just seemed like normal people who didn't want to drink or do drugs, but found fun and pleasure in other ways. I originally thought that every straight-edge person was that way. I previously hadn't known that some of them are involved in these violent gangs who target people with different views than them. Or, people who "follow the crowd" and begin drinking/doing drugs.

So, a question... do any of you know any straight-edge people? Have they ever exhibited violent behavior? Do they accept others who choose to drink or do drugs? Let me know, I'm really interested...

PEACE from the east,

***EDIT: Mike - I actually wasn't even thinking about you when I wrote this. There were quite a few straight edge people at Brandywine, but the ones who I knew better went to Concord. I'm not mixing up straight edge with people who just choose not to drink...there are a few differences. One is that people who are straight edge do it because it "goes against the grain" and isn't the norm for teenagers to denounce drinking and drugs. Also, I wasn't trying to say that ALL people who decide not to drink make up the straight-edge subculture. People who become straight edge are proud to be straight edge...many of them get it tattooed on their bodies and display the straight edge symbol (XXX) on their clothing and accessories. There are two different types of straight edge people... those who are straight edge and non violent, and those who join these straight edge gangs. Sorry I wasn't as clear as I should have been!


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Lindsey said...

i've never had any experience w/ like, militant straight edge people and any friends who didn't drink/do drugs didn't really call themselves straight edge...i had friends in college who didn't drink for whatever reason, but it was more of just not wanting to than being a part of some larger straight edge mafia or something. that's crazy talk!
hope you had fun last night! when you come to philly next you guys will have to stay and we can go out!

Mike said...

Hey Kristen,

I hope I'm not included in your list of people that you knew from high school who are "straight-edge"; that's certainly not how I think of myself. "Straight-edge" is this sort of nondrinking, drug-free subculture that came out of the punk rock movement in the late 80s. I've always thought that it was sort of dumb. I didn't see the TV special, but I think you may be confusing people who decide not to drink or smoke and people who are part of this "straight edge" subculture. I mean, I know that we basically knew the same people in high school, and I don't think that anyone at our school was "straight edge."

I think there's a big difference between having personal or philosophical reasons not to drink and not doing it because you want to fit in with some movement that you joined. It's the latter group that sometimes goes out and beats people up (though I think that associating everyone who's "straightedge" punk with violence is a huge mistake- I mean, these are clearly pretty isolated incidents).

In high school, I must have seemed to be pretty vehemently against alcohol-- I think I was disappointed mainly with how immature everyone was and how stupidly they sometimes acted. Here at school, almost all of my friends drink in moderation and I'm fine with that. Also, my girlfriend is a bartender.

So no, I've never felt the temptation to start a very small gang and go around punching people who drink.


Mike said...

Shoot, okay, so I did get the "XXX tattoo" but that was just a phase.

In all seriousness, I get it now- sorry I misunderstood you!

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA. these comments and your correction, kris, brought me RIGHT back to high school for a second where you and mike used to debate...well, everything. :) I miss it a little. I think I just miss home (and you!) right now though.

Anyway, the only person I "know" who is straight-edge is Chad from New Found Glory. Remember when I used to be obsessed with them? (maybe that's also why this post reminds me of hs). Anyway, he wasn't fact, on their dvd special (okay, yes, i still own it.hahaha) he talked about how people shouldn't be violent and that he wasn't saying no one should drink/do drugs, but that it just wasn't for him.

interesting post. i really miss you.