posted on Nov, 11 2009 @ 10:19 PM
Before people get all sorts of crazy ideas and misconceptions about the philosophy/subculture of straightedge, let me attempt to speak as an
unofficial representative of this leaderless "movement."
The term dates from the early 1980s punk subculture. It started with bands such as Minor Threat (in songs such as "Straight Edge" and "Out of Step
(With the World)") taking a stand against the self-destructive behavior typical of punks of the time. It was never intended to be a movement, merely
an argument in favor of living a clean life, and not distorting one's mind and damaging one's body with harmful recreational drugs and irresponsible
Essentially, the argument was to share and model the idea that you don't need to drink, smoke, use other drugs, or sleep around to have a good time.
The philosophy suggests that it may be preferable (and healthier) to abstain from these things, so that you can remember what you did the night
before, and not regret it or risk damage to yourself or others.
Straightedge (or sXe) came out of the punk scene, specifically hardcore punk, but the idea has spread to other genres of music, and so you do have sXe
metal, rap, etc., but it is most associated with hardcore. I enjoy hardcore, as do many edgers, but it is not uncommon for people to use the term
"straight edge" and not listen to punk at all.
The idea was just that, but with any philosophical premise, you will have extremism. Despite the aggressive nature of hardcore music, violence is
antithetical to sXe. Obviously, it defeats the purpose of being against the practice of damaging oneself if you are just going to go around and
assault other people. There are hardline edgers who may be judgmental of drug use, but it is a very small minority who act out their judgmental
beliefs in violent ways.
Straightedge "gangs" are nothing new. They are far less common than they once were, and there are far bigger gangs to worry about. These people
merely co-opt the label and subculture as an excuse to play out their violent urges, like any gang. In Utah, there is a substantial sXe group, most
likely due to the fertile ground laid by the beliefs of the large Mormon population, who also abstain from drug use as a rule. And yes, there is a
violent element there, perhaps more prominent than in other parts of the U.S. But it is, to use a terrible pun, a minor threat.
So please don't get the wrong idea about edgers as a whole. It's not even a real movement (not like Temperance or anything) and has no real leaders.
The small number of violent gangs who identify with sXe are not representative of the concept as a whole (which has many shades of grey). It is
intended to be a positive lifestyle choice, albeit one that may seem confrontational at times, because it flies in the face of popular opinion.
Regardless, it should be no cause for concern to most people.