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Thesis – SxE: A ‘Religious’ Subculture?

Originally Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Written by: Helen White

Straight Edge – A ‘Religious’ Subculture? An exploration

Abstract
This thesis is an exploration of Straight Edge; a chosen abstinence from poisons such as drugs and alcohol, in terms of religious behaviour patterns, differences from other subculture types, anti-rebellion, and perhaps a new definition of the subculture itself. It explores the reasons behind the subculture through large a survey of Straight Edge participants around the world, and attempts to define the original meaning of the subculture and what it means today. It determines the demographic of the subculture, its typical race, age and location statistics. Straight Edge is presented in comparison to religion and other subcultures and its true definition ascertained.

Contents
Introduction
Methodology
Definition Of a Subculture
Definition Of Straight Edge
The Original Message
Twisting The Message
Straight Edge, Gender and Race
Characteristics of a Religion
Comparisons of Straight Edge and Religion
Straight Edge Compared To Other Subculture Types
Conversion
Straight Edge as a New Alternative To Religion
Straight Edge as Anti-Capitalism
The Future of Straight Edge
Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction
The Straight Edge community is spread thinly over the globe; a small group of people who refuse drugs, alcohol, tobacco and promiscuity and in some cases choose extra denial of meat, dairy products and even prescription medication. These self-imposed rules seem to go against the nature of the very culture of music they are set in; growing out of hardcore punk from America, a genre normally associated with an unhealthy penchant for these indulgences. Varied opinions on the rules of Straight Edge exist between countries, bands and even within cities. Throughout its history, it has passed through stages of radical extremism and militant enforcement, which have sometimes served to subvert it. Perhaps the reasons behind the birth of Straight Edge have become lost, as forms of elitism begin to shape the group demographic, the excluded become exclusive, and many first generation ‘edgers’ grow older and out of the subculture entirely.


Hardcore, the original music of Straight Edge, is raucous, using distorted guitars, shouting and guttural vocals with fast rhythmical drums, sometimes with sections of ‘beat downs’, where the beat becomes slower, heavier and the guitars accompany with crunching muted chords in patterns. The lyrics are often very challenging, violent and oppositional. One of the unique features of Straight Edge is the fact that it is in itself a revolt against certain types of subcultural activity, subverting many of the accepted features of youth subcultures.

Methodology
My main research will consist of the analysis of 107 surveys of a cross section of Straight Edge people across the world, which will give an idea of the demographic of people within Straight Edge, asking about age, sex, religious beliefs, musical tastes, their own definitions of their subculture and longevity of the lifestyle choice. I will also conduct interviews with some key members of the movement. A survey of the current Straight Edge scene has never before been published. There are few books devoted specifically to the subject of Straight Edge, but it is mentioned in books charting the history of punk and many interviews have been dedicated to asking the originators about the ideas, such as anti-capitalism, anti-society and opposing mainstream ideals behind the movement.

I had not known hardcore as a musical genre until I came to London and began attending shows, and I had not heard the term Straight Edge before. The ideas and morals it was to suggest to me made me consider society differently, and the idea that people created a false reality where they could only enjoy communicating socially if under the influence of substances like drugs and alcohol. I needed to belong to a group that had the same ideals I had, one where a social identity would allow me to remain clean and sober; Straight Edge would later give me a label and a reason to stick to my own rules. I had also been religious before, again partly because I wanted to belong to a tight-knit group, a surrogate family, and because I enjoyed the positive ideals behind this faith, but this was something that flaws for me, and I had trouble focussing my positivity on a ‘God’ who was not immediate to me.

I have become interested in the reasoning behind the choice to be ‘poison-free’, especially in the similarities between Straight Edge and religion. The sense of solidarity is stronger than I have ever seen within any other genre of music. Straight Edge does not appear to be the same as other musical subcultures, from an inside or from an outside point of view.

Definition of a subculture
Subcultures are broadly accepted to be those social groups of people who do not follow the mainstream culture of the time period, these people being smaller in number than the mainstream culture. Youth subculture is often the result of disaffection and isolation from the general population, parents and other peers. Troubled teenagers are likely to feel this sense of being different, and this leads them to create their own cultures that they feel more a part of. This is definitely the case with Straight Edge. Hebdige describes subculture in terms of ‘style’, based around the semiotics and fashions, which I believe are merely the surface of subculture and cannot actually define it wholly.

‘However, the challenge to hegemony which subcultures represent is not issued directly by them. Rather it is expressed obliquely, in style. The objections are lodged, the contradictions displayed (and, as we shall see, ‘magically resolved’) at the profoundly superficial level of appearances: that is, at the level of signs.’[1]


He does not take into account the underlying reasons why these people adopt a particular style as part of their chosen subculture. Observing as an outsider, he lacks the experience of sharing ‘feeling’ with a group. As a lot of the people I surveyed prove, Straight Edge does indeed come from ‘feelings’[2], as I will explain further in later sections when I analyse my survey results.

“I guess I’m part of a scene. I have similar beliefs as a large group of people who end up being in a lot of the same places at the same time.” [3]

The challenge was in fact, ‘issued directly’ through the constant clashing of Straight Edgers and authority, which makes it an oppositional subculture, according to Raymond Williams’ definitions, as discussed by Lewis[4]. Hughes however, from his studies of student culture, people of the same age with similar concerns surrounding their place in society as those in Straight Edge, states that:

‘Wherever some group of people have a bit of common life with a modicum of isolation from other people, a common corner in society, common problems and perhaps a couple of common enemies, there culture grows.’[5]

Perhaps the common enemies of people involved with Straight Edge are alcohol, drugs and sex. The semiotics alone cannot point these people out; many of them do not even display these signs readily. Straight Edge has no specific fashion linked solely with it other than the original X’s, which may or may not be present in the form of tattoos or symbols on hands or clothing. Hardcore and Straight Edge style cannot be told apart in most cases. Hardcore fashion has many variations, signals of different types of hardcore within the scene: there is London hardcore, which has trademark looks such as sportswear; tracksuits, basketball vests, caps, bomber jackets and high-street branded trainers, mainstream in appearance except for the full-sleeve tattoos which may be underneath. It is also obvious that some of the look is derived from skinhead fashion, as a lot of the old-school fans were skinheads previously, supporting bands such as Agnostic Front, a seminal skinhead hardcore punk band. The American hardcore fashion, or ‘fashioncore’ as it has been named, has branched into skin-tight jeans, squash court style trainers with brands like Converse and Macbeth (who actually designed vegan trainers for Straight Edge kids), small-fitting zip-up hooded tops, flesh tunnels in the ears[6], trucker caps, tattoos, and haircuts with longer floppy parts at the front and short and tidy at the back, mostly black, sometimes with bleach blonde sections. Many hardcore kids in the UK, with some additions, have subsequently adopted this style. Some Straight Edgers wear clothing with printed Straight Edge slogans. It is possible as a Straight Edge

person to recognise another Straight Edger in the street, but a non-Straight Edge person might not see the indicators as easily.


Definition of Straight Edge
I carried out my survey mostly on the Internet, posting it on Straight Edge forums, hardcore websites and contacting Straight Edge bands I already knew.

The results of my survey proved that people within the subculture have very different definitions of Straight Edge. Only three points of identity seemed to be agreed on by everyone: abstinence from alcohol, smoking, drugs and casual sex. Some even stated that there was no blanket definition, claiming they had never met two people with the same idea of what Straight Edge is.[7] Many of the books written specifically about Straight Edge have neglected to try and define it at all, perhaps as the more anecdotal of these books are based more on interviews rather than the author exploring the subculture or analysing it.[8] In the next section I will look at the definition set out by the originators of Straight Edge in detail, but for now I will just say that the first written version of a definition from one person stated abstinence from drinking, smoking and sex. Drugs were mentioned in this brief committal, although in a more personal way. Over the years following the birth of the subculture, many more things were abstained from, including meat, dairy products (veganism), caffeine, medicines (both prescription and non-prescription), fur products, leather, self-harm and other generally accepted self-destructive behaviours. I have noted that in Internet forums frequented by Straight Edge people, many discussions are centred around what is, and what isn’t deemed as Straight Edge; often these become fiercely battled arguments with little compromise between parties involved[9]. Sociologist Howard Becker’s theory that “many people have suggested that a subculture arises essentially in response to a problem faced in common by a group of people, insofar as they are able to interact and communicate with one another effectively.”[10] would seem to loosely fit Straight Edge on a most basic of levels, but the ‘problem’ that Straight Edge was a reaction to, was once seen as a ‘liberation’ by other subcultures. The survey showed that most Straight Edge people became part of the subculture as a reaction to parental alcoholism or drug use[11]. These people would also be looking for a surrogate ‘family’ to become part of. It is hard to say whether or not at this point in time, Straight Edge can exist separately from hardcore music, as it may be found that people in other musical subculture may abstain from the same things, but possibly not for the same reasons, and almost certainly without the same semiotics of X’s on hands and the same anti-rebellion meaning. As survey respondents were split roughly equally when asked whether they considered themselves to be part of a scene, this suggests it is beginning to separate from the music completely. As subcultures stem from a culture and share some similar attributes with their ‘parent’ culture, it may be thought that Straight Edge would follow this pattern too, but Straight Edge was effectively the ‘son’ of the hippy sixties subculture, and the beginnings of punk, that is, it was a reaction to another subculture, which in turn had been a reaction to the mainstream culture. Although the attributes that made Straight Edge similar to the sixties mainstream culture, a promotion of abstinence, it was not accepted accordingly by society. This was much to do with the ‘twisting of the message’ that I will describe and analyse in the next sections. This can also be seen in Skinhead culture, as discussed by Clarke, where Skinheads uphold the core values of working class, borrowed from the parent subculture:


‘Skinhead style represents an attempt to recreate through the ‘mob’, the traditional working class community, as a substitution for the real decline of the latter.’[12]


The Original Message – Where it came from and what it meant then

“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’ve got the Straight Edge”[13]

In the aftermath of the late seventies, when music and drug taking had formed an alliance so strong that rock and roll hardly existed without consumption of intoxicating substance, a backlash began. In the UK, punk was born, a rising rebellion in reaction to the political situation that caused the working classes to hit a dead end of a life with no prospects. Although punk did spread over to America, and took hold of a new generation there too, there was a sector of middle class America who needed their own punk subculture, and punk as it was did not fit the bill. Rebellion must necessarily be a reaction going against mass culture: subculture, by its very nature. The birth of hardcore in Washington D.C. in the early eighties was anger directed towards capitalism, and the bowing of politics to aid that capitalism in the eyes of white, middle class youth there. Although the energy and attitude of punk was a definite expression that these new generation kids shared, the anarchy of drugs did not appeal to them. Henry Rollins, of seminal hardcore band Black Flag, and his friend Ian MacKaye, of Minor Threat, who coined the term ‘Straight Edge’, had been drawn to punk because it challenged and confronted the mainstream not only musically, but also theologically, physically, sexually, artistically and politically. But they had also been impressed by rock guitarist Ted Nugent, who openly talked about his choice not to take drugs or drink. Attending heavy metal shows where people paid to watch a band and then drank so much that they were barely conscious enough to see the show; they decided that they would never take that route themselves. Ian MacKaye had grown up during the sixties, and he appreciated the sentiments at the beginning, fighting against normality and striving towards higher goals, but he saw that hippies had somehow let these dreams slide and had ended up doing these normal things, and settling down with the same careers as everybody else. The people who had begun to live alternative lifestyles had then got caught up with drugs and did not strive for change anymore. MacKaye wanted to succeed where they had failed; he wanted his own cultural revolution:

“A lot of people I know – everyone, maybe – just feel a great uselessness. You’re a human being and the world is so big; everything is just so untouchable and unreachable. They just want to do something they can be a part of and they can mould and they can make.” [14]

Washington’s bar laws meant that all premises selling alcohol must also serve food, and minors could not be barred from food premises. Risking prosecution for barring minors, venues chose to avoid being prosecuted for serving alcohol to minors, and the result was to bar minors from shows altogether. MacKaye’s first band, the Teen Idles, managed to get themselves admitted into a show after persuading the venue that if they were marked with X’s on the backs of their hands, they would be refused service at the bar. Soon they persuaded other venues to use this system too, and kids were allowed back into shows provided they didn’t drink.

Releasing the song ‘Straight Edge’ (see lyrics at the beginning of this section) on their first record in 1981, Minor Threat sparked a whole new movement within hardcore.

MacKaye gave rise to, and inadvertently named Straight Edge as a set of rules, albeit unintentionally. Kids who followed the band began marking themselves with X’s not only to go to the shows, but to advertise that they too renounced these substances. They saw it as a better way of refusing to comply with the system; they could get around the drinking laws by simply making it cool not to drink. MacKaye’s lyric ‘Don’t Fuck’ was less clear in its meaning, but he in fact explained to the press that he was referring to meaningless sexual conquests, that the media readily seemed to advocate as inconsequential, yet another profit making form of damaging society. After the free love of the sixties, the world was paying for this kind of risk taking with sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies. Their second release, ‘Government Issue’ directly challenged capitalism, fashion, seventies rock, drugs, police, and the ‘American dream’, James Dean. With lyrics like:

“We all used to walk down the streets
yelling anarchy to everyone we’d see
it used to be the punks favourite plea
but it don’t mean nothing to me
Anarchy is dead “[15]

This was the birth of Straight Edge in its named and recognised form.

Twisting the message
MacKaye’s ideals soon began to gain momentum amongst the hardcore audience. People who had originally been drawn to hardcore through their anger at being neglected or abused by the society they were growing up in began to take on the lyrics of his song as a system of values to live by. Having MacKaye at the centre of these values also helped as a focus for them. MacKaye’s influence over his audiences made him, and the rest of the band, uncomfortable. There ensued direct playing-down of any kind of preaching in his lyrics:

“Listen, this is no set of rules. I’m not telling you what to do. All I’m saying is that I’m bringing up three things [drinking, drugs, sex] that are so unimportant to me” [16]

and he was forced by his band mates to ensure he pronounced the ‘I’ part of his lyric ‘I Don’t Smoke…’ to emphasise that it was a personal reference, not an instruction to others. In expressing his own rejection of society, he had become almost precisely what he was against – an authoritarian. He wanted to raise the issues he wrote about, and the power of the message to those who also felt strongly about these issues too, combined with the urge to take action against society and form some kind of alliance amongst themselves had resulted in the birth of a subculture.

As more people joined Straight Edge, new sectors of ‘militant’ Straight Edge appeared. There were several instances of violence by Edgers against either ‘Edge breakers’ or people partaking of substances or drinking. The ‘Courage Crew’ in America was responsible for most of these acts of violence, and as a result the whole subculture came into question from outsiders, including the press:

“Things didn’t quite work out for Josh Anderson in the Mormon church. Nor did a nondenominational Christian upbringing light the way for Randy Haselton. But neither teen gave up entirely on structure and clean living in Utah. The boys hooked up with Straight Edge, an anti-drug gang of middle-class kids, and discovered new passions. Josh became a vegan and firebombed a McDonald’s; Randy enjoys beating the tar out of people.”[17]

The Courage Crew were ‘Hardliners’ who began a negative backlash by committing acts of violence against people in clubs and bars they frequented. They routinely beat up drinkers and smokers, and people who broke their ‘Edge rules’ would be severely punished. This behaviour was harmful to the Straight Edge community because it went against what the majority believed in – Straight Edge for postivity and change. The actions of the Courage Crew also left a lasting impression on people who were not Straight Edge, and put them off the scene completely. [18]

Straight Edge, Gender and Race
It is important when examining Straight Edge to determine who, predominantly, the subculture consists of. The little research done specifically on Straight Edge has shown it to be a male dominated subculture, as most subcultures are. There are only a handful of females in hardcore bands, because of the fierce vocal style that most females cannot perform for anatomical reasons, and because of the sometimes violent macho nature of the subculture. Those that do exist are seen as being really tough, and often intimidate even their male counterparts. Haenfler highlights the issues surrounding Straight Edge as progressive masculinity, challenging, yet still reflecting hegemonic masculinity, and it is clear that Straight Edge is a form of projection of this masculinity through hardline and more militant Straight Edge gangs. Strangely, in Britain, the earliest equivalent of Straight Edge came from a collective of both males and females, Crass, who were anti-capitalism, pro-pacifism, vegetarian and against drink and drugs as a reaction to government, war, exploitation and religion. There was a small network of bands for a while with this attitude, but it was never termed Straight Edge at the time, and did not survive in the UK[19]. When hardcore came around in America, the more thrashy music style and characteristic ‘Slam dancing’ pushed females out of the movement.

Writing as a female within hardcore, I am very aware of the gender imbalance within the scene. There is definitely a notion that a lot of girls seen to be at shows are simply attending with their boyfriends who are the true hardcore fans.

“For instance, a sort of obscure and strange form of male behaviour was held in great esteem among the Straight Edge scenesters. This was described by the adjective “hard”. There was a rating system of worth, which was dominated by this word…and hard, needless to say, related to maleness. Male genitals, Male behaviour, Male minds…Girls in the hardcore scene at large, and in the microcosmic Straight Edge scene, as elsewhere, were basically ornaments. You could be a hard girl, but you were always that – a hard – girl.” [20]

My survey respondents were over 70% males. There are websites set up specifically for Straight Edge girls, as a support network, in reaction to the subculture becoming more violent in attitude.

Some Straight Edge bands, like Minor Threat and Verbal Assault, seemed to care about women’s issues and tried to address these issues through lyrical content. The celibacy issue, or choice of Straight Edge to avoid casual sex is related to women’s problems of abortion and unwanted pregnancy:

‘’Epidemics’ of teenage pregnancy and ‘amazing rises’ in illegitimacy reflect a recurrent social fear about the implications of sexual nonconformity’[21]

And as the sixties counterculture rallied for sexual liberation, these results in themselves produced the celibacy backlash through Straight Edge. This is also true today, as the public presence of HIV and Aids and ever increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases[22] show the mainstream still to be in this apparent state of ‘liberation’ Straight Edge is concerned with.

Straight Edge is most definitely a white male dominated subculture, arising in white middle class America, partly as a reaction to black culture. This has translated to British Straight Edge and singles out this subculture from other British subcultures:

‘As Hebdige sees it, British Youth subculture symbolically resolves racial tensions and the tensions of class through borrowing (to varying degrees) elements from an already doubly alienated black population.’[23]

It is hard to see what elements of hardcore or Straight Edge have been taken from black cultures, in the music itself there is no backbeat, no swing or groove, and not much melody. The obvious tensions still arising from the differing views on substances between some black originating cultures like hip-hop, or rap and white Straight Edge do not seem to make for a resolution of racial tension. Perhaps this subversion was a result of white alienation in the then black dominated culture in Washington, and is now continuing as a form of reaction to what is perceived as black cultural domination.

“If you grew up white in this city, and you’re not part of the political establishment, or you’re not part of the true culture, which is a black culture, then you have no culture. There is nothing here.” Ian MacKaye[24]


Black-rooted genres of music would seem to promote the very things that Straight Edge is opposed to. Through the media, the MTV generation see and hear artists of black rooted music portraying drug use, or the implied use of drugs, sexual irresponsibility and superficiality, implied gun culture and ‘bling bling’[25] capitalism.


Characteristics of a religion
All religions have a ‘God’. Some of them have more than one. They also have holy buildings and a hierarchy of authority in most cases, creating a pastoral system for followers. Most religions take reference from writings of prophetic figures, and base their beliefs around commands or examples within this. But despite these seemingly obvious characteristics, there has always been a problem surrounding the ‘definition’ of a religion. Durkheim’s definition is:

‘A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one moral unity called a church, all those who adhere to them.’[26]

This was the most comprehensive definition I found. In the next section I will take into account the psychological sociology of religion in order to compare it properly with Straight Edge.

Comparisons of Straight Edge and religion
The closest similarity between Straight Edge and Religion is that they both require adherence to rules, or doctrines;

another parallel between Straight Edge and religious behaviour in psychological terms is the one that also links all subcultures to religion- the need for social grouping:

“Festinger (1954) has suggested that people need social support for their beliefs, and create such support by enforcing conformity.”[27]

As the church, or equivalent holy building is the central focus for religious followers, so Straight Edgers have hardcore shows. Although not based in one venue, more often than not the same people will attend the shows, allowing social bonds to grow. With the increasing use of the Internet as a ‘venue’, it is even easier to make contact with other Straight Edgers anywhere in the world. This may also explain why half of my survey respondents did not consider themselves part of a scene, if they imagine this scene in only face-to-face terms. Almost every religion now has an online presence too. The age of most people when they enter any subculture, including Straight Edge is during youth, and as Argyle states, this is true for religious conversion too:

“The period 10-18, which we will label ‘adolescence’, is of very great interest. It is the age of religious awakening, during which time people either become converted or decide to abandon the faith of their childhood, if they had one.”[28]

Argyle also says that religious conversions are also of higher incidence in old age, or after the loss of a spouse, something it is not possible to study in Straight Edge, as even its originators are still only just approaching middle age.

Argyle’s studies on the social psychology of religion identified that “Social influence is greatest on beliefs which are vague and unstructured, and on matters about which the subject is ignorant.” This would seem to have a link with Straight Edge, as its beliefs are relatively unstructured and there are so many grey areas. As is shown in my survey, many of the very young teenagers who take up the subculture are greatly influenced by peers who may have encouraged them to become part of their scene, but unaware of the history and meanings of Straight Edge as a social movement, and are often very unsure of their own beliefs, political stance, or principles outside of the physical attributes of a poison free lifestyle.

The militancy of the hardliners can be compared with extremism in many religions, from the troubles in Northern Ireland, where people harm those of another religion, to the recent terrorism from Muslim fundamentalists towards non-Muslim countries.

Although for Muslims, alcohol is against their religion, in countries where they are more relaxed, partaking would not mean renouncing their faith, where as for Straight Edge, no relaxing of the three core rules is permitted even by non-hardliners.

Bella in 1976[29] identifies that religious sects, or new religions, provide stability for youth, who may be often disillusioned by drugs or politics. These sects may serve to reintegrate people with society, encourage them to work jobs, and form more stable bonds with family. As I have discussed before, the notion of family is a strong message throughout hardcore and Straight Edge; a notion which is present within the lyrics of many hardcore bands although it can mean for many Edgers a different kind of family, the one within their subculture:

“For myself, for my friends, for my family, straight fucking edge!” Throwdown (Forever)

Religious behaviour also provides structure to disaffected people; MacKay himself said:

“I really liked school, because I saw it as structure, which I admired.”[30]

This admiration of structure gives a clear indication of why he would have gone on to create rules for himself, which he obviously did through Straight Edge.

There have been some links throughout the history of Straight Edge to various specific religions, where people have begun to fit themselves in with groups they feel have a similar belief system to their own. The Salvation Army ask their members to abstain from alcohol, believing it to cause many major problems of poverty and corruption in society[31]; a view shared by Straight Edge. Ray Cappo[32] spawned interest in Hare Krishna amongst the Straight Edge hardcore community, later going on to become a Brahmana priest.[33]. He saw that Krishna followers placed no importance at all on material possessions, and spent their time striving for something higher than the physical world, and this fitted with everything he stood for. Shelter had Krishna symbols as logos and Cappo even wrote a book with a fellow Krishna devotee, who had mentioned he played guitar. When Cappo asked him why he would not play for Krishna, he told Cappo that he thought it would be bad for his spirituality. Cappo pressed him further on this, and the devotee answered:

“Check for yourself. The next time you’re on stage, see if you’re being the servant of God, or you’re trying to be God.”[34]

As Straight Edge bands proclaim their message, they also get attention from crowds of ‘followers’; just as religious leaders do, with the added bonus that they end up making money from proclaiming their messages. This form of evangelism, often also present in religion is an integral part of hardcore and Straight Edge. Cappo feels that shouting lyrics on stage becomes the equivalent of the chanting rituals in Krishna, performed to reinforce a change in consciousness: meditation. [35]

“Sometimes views are expressed in public which are different from those held in private: Schanck (1932) studied a keen Methodist community where people disapproved of tobacco, alcohol and cards although many of the members indulged privately in these same things. It is noteworthy that religious beliefs are strictly unobservable since it is literally impossible to discover if a person really believes something or not.” [36]

The problems of accusation of hypocrisy that seem rife within religion can also be found to a point in Straight Edge. As many cases have proved, the very leaders within a church can be the perpetrators of highly deviant acts. Child abuse is the most well known deviation associated with religion. Sects and cults are also subject to much debate revolving around their treatment of children; many cases have been exposed where children are brought up into a community where underage sex with older members of the cult is an everyday occurrence. Although most major religions do not advocate sexual activity in this way, for the leaders of such organisations to be responsible for breaking these rules is a major issue for society in general, and also for the followers of the religion; their trust in such leaders is then severely damaged. In Straight Edge, there have been instances where evangelical members of bands leading the way in the scene have been found to be consuming alcohol whilst out of public view. In the same way as religious followers feel extremely disillusioned by the deviant actions of hypocritical leaders, the Straight Edge scene suffers greatly when someone they look up to is found to be a hypocrite. Hypocrisy eventually led to links with Hare Krishna being partially dissolved: John Joseph, founder of the Cro-mags, a skinhead band evangelising Krishna, is now critical of the official Krishna organization. His experience of a spiritual master being found to be having sex with an underage girl left him challenging what he sees at degenerating principles within the organisation. [37]

If compared to a cult, a less recognised religious sect, we see that Straight Edge is very different. The only real comparison between Straight Edge and a cult, as identified by the editor of the Cultic Studies Journal is that ‘Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.’[38] A lot of Straight Edge people feel that their subculture has become like a religion, and that it is not such a good thing.

“I feel it’s taken just like any other religion and that’s unfortunate…it can be distorted / misinterpreted…impressed upon others” [39]


As I have shown in previous sections, most Straight Edge people have their own definitions of what Straight Edge is, and they follow their own rules, which may or may not be in alignment with everyone else in the subculture around them. These varying beliefs could be identified as denominations, as within religions. In Christianity for example, there are several different branches of church; they all share the same Bible, and have the same God, but Methodists disallow alcohol in their churches, whilst Catholicism uses it as part of Holy Communion. Catholics focus worship on the Virgin Mary, whilst Protestants believe she was merely a normal sinner like all other mortals. Their differences of opinion stem from their different interpretations of the Bible. Although Straight Edge has not evolved quite to this extent, still being embryonic compared to these religious denominations, people within the subculture are already beginning to fight amongst themselves verbally and over the Internet about the definition of Straight Edge. The Minor Threat Lyrics, the equivalent to a Holy text, have been interpreted to suit different people.

Straight Edge compared to other subculture types

Arguably, many musical subcultures, and fandom have the characteristics of religion. Club culture, where a Godlike DJ creates mood within the audience with each record they choose to mix could appear a little like some kind of sacred ritual. During their dancing, they may feel they reach some kind of spiritual level with the music, a state of euphoria, hence a dance genre named as such. Equally, peoples worshipping behaviour around their musical idols, fainting in their presence, tears, joy and yearning for even the touch of a hand, is fairly religious too. But these subcultures lack rules. Other subcultures have lifestyles, clothes, music associated with them, and most members take on these elements as part of their lives, whereas Straight Edge requires the proclamation of adherence to the rules of a poison free lifestyle. A person has to change their behaviour, sometimes completely, to be able to become part of the Straight Edge subculture, just as someone being initiated into a religion must renounce certain behaviours, foods, or even clothing as sinful or forbidden.

One of the most closely related subcultures in musical sound terms is heavy metal, a subculture that has been made scapegoat for many cases involving people committing violent crimes, who have been thought to be influenced by metal music to the point of mental illness.

“Today’s heavy metal music is categorically different from previous forms of popular music. It contains the element of hatred, a meanness of spirit. Its principal themes are extreme violence, extreme rebellion, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, and perversion and Satanism.” [40]

Heavy metal is linked to the hardcore music of Straight Edge by its distorted guitars, anger and aggression both on stage and on the dance floor, where it is not unusual for people to come away injured. In contrast however, if Dr. Stuessy is to be believed, metal promotes everything that Straight Edge is against, and also has the obvious association with the opposite of God, Satan. If thought about in actual terms, the idea of Satanism is not about ‘Satan’, it was created by man for man alone, as ‘a church that would recapture man’s body and his carnal desires as objects of celebration.’[41] Carnal desires in Straight Edge are viewed as detrimental to the focus of self, as are the resulting unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, which can occur. Metal as a genre attempts to challenge society by misbehaving, only this misbehaviour is now becoming more of a conformity as society itself changes to accept substance abuse and casual sex as normal. Straight Edge in this context compared to metal, is very similar to Christianity and many other religions that stand against these behaviours.

Conversion
The age of adolescence seems to bring with it a decision to convert to, or leave behind a religion and set of beliefs, which could be attributed to the many questions adolescents feel they have unanswered.[42] A young person has to deal with thoughts about their sexuality, being different or the same as everyone around them, and the prospect of looming adulthood. Confusion at this time because of these thoughts may lead to a need to become part of a social group or religion which can help them to deal with more immediate problems of a simpler nature, such as intoxicating substances within the Straight Edge movement. The ‘conversion’ for Straight Edgers may be triggered by outside influences. From 107 surveys, 70% of respondents said that they had experienced trauma as a result of using, or being around users of intoxicating substances. Most of these were family issues caused by alcoholism in their parents of other members of close family, or drug addicted family members. A lot of people had also seen friends under the influence of substances, then been witness to the after effects, and long-term detriment to health and general progress. Some had also had their own personal experiences with substances where they had felt out of control, or had behaved in ways that made them feel embarrassed or guilty later on. Experiencing these traumas at a relatively early age, or whilst growing up in troubled families, they had made a decision to choose a different way of life in reaction. This could go against the scientific studies showing how there are genetic factors involved in alcoholism, although this cannot be told until they reach the age of their parents. There are also suggestions which show that people brought up in homes showing dysfunction caused by an alcoholic parent, were more likely to experience maladjustment, as they got older. Scharff’s study of students with an alcoholic parent compared to those without showed that having the environmental influence of alcoholism through childhood caused considerable difficulties with coping mechanisms and relationship forming,[43] so it is not surprising that the psychological need for community and safety should be heightened, and people affected should search for a supportive system such as Straight Edge.

Straight Edge As A New Alternative to Religion
Taking Straight Edge as a belief system without the presence of a Godlike figure to actually identify it as a religion specifically, and lacking areas such as afterlife beliefs and systems of authoritative hierarchy as are present in most churches, it can simply be classified as a system of practices; an alternative to classical religions.

The question of ‘God’, and the problems surrounding the existence of higher power and its context are becoming increasingly obvious in modern times. As secularisation changes the shape of religion in society, and the recent world threat posed by extremist religious terrorists towards the major powers, younger generations are beginning to question the relevance of religion in its historical forms and search for new alternatives.

Claims made by evolutionary biologists would argue that there is no higher power. Similarly, chaos theory argues that there is no ‘destiny’ and nothing has a set path through life.

‘(2) Evolutionary theory implies, more specifically, that there is no meaning to be found behind the emergence of human beings in natural history, that is, we are not here for a reason and in particular were not planned by God or anything like God.’[44]

As scientific knowledge is widened and the human being as a subject becomes less of a mystery, the question of religion is challenged more and more. Although various churches have scientists who attempt to explain life scientifically within the realms of religion, many of the scientific theories of life itself cannot be held in agreement with the notion of a higher power. Darwin’s theories of evolution began the onslaught of challenges to religious beliefs, and these ideas have since been propagated by theorists such as Dawkins, with his ideas that human beings are simply machines designed to reproduce our DNA, this being our only reason for existence. We are created by our own kind, in order to survive and pass on our genes, and this rules out the presence of God because it then becomes the meaning of life.[45]

But even after all these challenges to our classic religious ideas have been presented, the psychologist could still argue that human need for faith is present, regardless of scientific evidence against it. Our DNA gives us our purpose; it also gives us our psychological make up, which generates our psychological needs too. So to feed these needs in the face of secularisation and unrest in the world seemingly cause by religion, as we know it, people are increasingly looking for alternatives. Within music scenes generally, religion is not a readily accepted part of life, because music is so diverse and cannot be limited to one specific religious group. However, within smaller scenes, such as hardcore, people have such a strong sense of lifestyle that they perhaps need some kind of belief system, which centres on their lifestyle. Straight Edge performs this function for them, creating rules that would appear to have a goal; productivity and health for the future – which could be an equivalent to the afterlife so many religions look towards. Instead of having life after life, Straight Edge promotes life for the future in hand. It carries a potent message, which not only serves as a physically positive step for those who follow, but also a very anti-authority stance in parallel.

Straight Edge as Anti-Capitalism
“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” William Blake

By refusing to use the crutches of alcohol and nicotine that widespread society relies on, the huge companies making money from pushing out these substances, and the government taking tax from them, no longer have that particular hold on a person. During the sixties, marijuana had meant freedom in some ways, but this does not necessarily hold true anymore. Straight Edgers believe that consumption of any of these substances means allowing yourself to be controlled. Bellah’s writings in 1976 suggest that new religious movements, or sects, are not merely fads that will disappear as secularisation increases, but may have the potential to achieve a society where:

‘Priorities would shift away from endless accumulation of wealth and power to a greater concern for harmony with nature and between human beings.’ [46]

As I explained in previous sections, prevalent bands followed certain sects because they amounted to total anti-capitalism, complete detachment from the material world.

The future of Straight Edge

From my interaction with people in the Straight Edge scene, my many internet conversations, surveys and taking note of religious patterns that fit with the subculture, I think there will be many developments of Straight Edge. As a reaction and a rebellion it is more relevant now than it ever was. Straight Edge now is more anti-capitalist than ever.


In terms of Straight Edge as a masculine subculture, I believe that it will follow religion to become more prevalent amongst females. This is mainly based on the female tendency to become more spiritual, to search for higher meanings and purpose. UK National Statistics surveying in 2001 showed that two thirds of people who gave their religion as spiritualism were women. Islam was the only religion where men out numbered women. The surveys also showed a trend towards secularisation, as younger people were more likely to have no religion at all. Many of the Straight Edge people who returned my survey claimed they had no religion, in keeping with this trend.

Because Straight Edge has no God figure other than MacKaye himself, who has cut all ties with a movement he feels got out of control, there is no overruling power to award second chances to those who ‘sin’. Some Edgers are more liberal than others, and feel that it is better to encourage someone who breaks edge to become edge again, than to shun them. Others fear that this would produce dilution of the subculture, setting it as a trend rather than a meaningful statement to the rest of society. This refusal to award second chances to those who may make mistakes, could in the future herald the demise of the subculture.

Straight Edge has the added complication of existing only when these rules are adhered too; when a person breaks the rules, he or she is then no longer Straight Edge.

There are even websites solely devoted to naming members of bands or prominent figures in industry who have ‘broken edge’. ‘How’s Your Edge’ site has a section for such lists:

‘Below, you will find a list of dudes who are no longer edge. And for your convenience, we also list their home town, so you can decide whether you care or not, of if you should jock them. Plus, what better way to surprise your secret sipping friend?’[47]

The majority of the people who took part in my survey were probably influenced by their place in the subculture at the time of answering; they are involved in Straight Edge, and part of their involvement requires them to consider it as a choice for life. Many of them also said that a lot of younger people become Straight Edge, then break their abstinence as soon as they reach legal drinking age. These opinions cannot truly represent how many people actually do remain Straight Edge for life.

Conclusion
‘The new rejection was an acknowledgement that society was simply unworthy of any concern. Although they might remain in the world, they were not of the world.’[48]


Straight Edge, whether existing purely within hardcore music, or forming a separate identity as a belief system, holds a different set of social characteristics from other subcultures, aside from the usual hegemonic, oppositional or alternative definitions. It can exist both as a religion, and also as an alternative to religion simultaneously. It has proved that it can evolve over time as religions do, whilst remaining true to its roots. Unlike other musical subcultures, it is defined by not only beliefs, but by actions and is beginning to actually become a system of beliefs away from the hardcore scene altogether. It is not a simple mentality or ethos, but has a strict code of practice. It is sometimes a new path for people who choose to reject what they are socially expected to do, but who do not identify with mainstream religion because it includes so many of the aspects within society that they feel disillusioned by. It has a limited life span for those who break the rules, and therefore numbers are continually renewed and purged again. It is a subculture not simply led by its music, but that uses the hardcore scene as a vehicle for its message. It has the potential to also be a lifelong choice, rather than being reserved for youth, because of it being a doctrine set aside form the music, which may not always be to a persons tastes. Straight Edge is not an actual religion in that it does not have spiritual beliefs attached to it directly, but in context it is a ‘religious’ subculture.

Bibliography

Adorno, Theodor W. Quasi Una Fantasia : Essays on Modern Music. London ; New York : Verso , 1994.


Argyle, Michael,1925- Religious Behaviour. London: Routledge,1958.


Argyle, Michael,1925- The Social Psychology of Religion. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul , 1975.


Attali, Jacques, Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press, c1985.


Azerrad, M. Our Band Could Be Your Life. USA: First Back Bay, 2002.

Becker, Howard Saul, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: London: Free Press, 1973.


Brake, Mike. Comparative Youth Culture: The Sociology of Youth Cultures and Youth Subcultures in America, Britain and Canada. London: Routledge, 1990, c1985.


Cagle, Van M. Reconstructing Pop/Subculture: Art, Rock, and Andy Warhol. Thousand Oaks, California.; London: Sage Publications, c1995.


Clinard, Marshall Barron. Sociology of Deviant Behavior. New York; London: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1985.


Evans-Pritchard, Edward. Theories of Primitive Religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.


Freud, Sigmund, The Origins of Religion. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.

Frith, Simon.The Sociology of Rock. London: Constable, 1978

Green, Jonathon, 1948 – All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture. London: Pimlico, 1999.


Haenfler, R. Manhood In Contradiction, The Two Faces of Straight Edge. Men and Masculinities, Vol 7 No.1, July 2004 77-99.


Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen, 1979

Lahickey, B. All Ages, Reflections on Straight Edge. California: Revelation, 1997

LaVey, A. The Satanic Bible. New York: Harper Collins, 1969

Leblanc, L. Pretty In Punk, Girls’ Gender Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture. USA: Rutgers, 2001.


Popular Music and Communication. James Lull, Editor. London: Sage, c1992.

O’Hara, Craig. The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise!! Edinburgh: AK Press, 1995.


O’Brien, Lucy. She bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul. London: Continuum, 2002.


On Record: Rock, Pop, and the Written Word. Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin, Editors. London: Routledge, 1990.


Punk Rock, So What?: The Cultural Legacy of Punk. Roger Sabin, Editor. London; New York: Routledge, 1999.


Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain. Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson, Editors. London: Routledge, 1993.


Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Finding Connection in a Computerized World. London: Secker & Warburg, 1994.


Sexual Cultures: Communities, Values and Intimacy. Jeffrey Weeks and Janet Holland, Editors. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996.


Shuker, Roy. Understanding Popular Music. London, New York: Routledge, 2001.

Sinker, D. We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews. Akashic:Canada. 2001.


The Subcultures Reader, Ken Gelder and Sarah Thornton, Editors. London: Routledge, 1997.


Thompson, I. Religion. Longman 1986

Weinstein, Deena. Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture. New York: Da Capo Press, 2000.


Articleography
Brummer, V. On Three Ways To Justify Religious Beliefs. Ars Disputandi, Vol 1, The Netherlands, 2001. P1.


Chassin, L et al. Trajectories of Alcohol and Drug Use and Dependence From Adolescence to Adulthood: The Effects of Familial Alcoholism and Personality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 113, Issue 4, 2004. P483-498.


Francis, L.J. The Psychology of Gender Differences in Religion: A Review of Empirical Research. Religion, Vol 27, Issue 1, 1997 P81-96.


Kelley, M et al. Parental Alcoholism: Relationships to Adult Attachment in College Women and Men. Addictive Behaviours 29 (2004) 1633-1636. VA USA.


Poole, M, A Critique of Aspects of the Philosophy and Theology of Richard Dawkins. Science and Christian Belief . 1994 P58.


Scharff J.L.et al. Addictive Behaviours Vol 29, 2004. P575-581

Stenmark, M. Evolution, Purpose and God. Ars Disputandi 1. 2001. Upsala University, Sweden.


Zineography

Courage To Care Zine, Nov 04 Issue

Integrity Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 1. Spring 2003


Discography

Minor Threat. First 2 7″s, Dischord

Minor Threat. First Demo Tape, Dischord

Minor Threat. Out Of Step. Dischord

Sense Of Purpose, Tomorrow’s Too Late, Go Team.

Straight Edge Documentary, Steve Lamacq, Radio 1

ThexBreakxIn, This Ends With Us, Dead and Gone

Throwdown, Haymaker, Trustkill



Interviews
Kelly Brother, xsisterhoodx.com owner

Walt, inger from Straight Edge Band On Thin Ice

Phil Wilkey, owner of Go Team Records

Dave, singer of Straight Edge band Throwdown


[1] Hebdige, D. (1979) P17



[3] Anonymous female survey respondent aged 15, from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

[4] Lewis, G. In Lull, J (1992)

[5] Hughes, Everett c. (1961) Students’ Culture and Perspectives: Lectures On Medical and General Education, Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Law School. From The Subcultures reader…

[6] Where an ear piercing is stretched much wider than normal, sometimes up to 30mm diameter, and jewellery in the shape of tunnels can then be worn in the piercing.

[7] See appendix

[8] Beth Lahickey’s ‘All Ages’ book is the only published book on Straight Edge available readily.

[9] See appendix

[10] Becker, H. 1997: p.56

[11] See appendix

[12] Clarke, in Hall & Jefferson (Eds) (1993) P99

[13] Straight Edge, Minor Threat. These lyrics represent the core of Straight Edge thinking.


[14] Ian MacKaye 1983 from Azerrad, M. P119

[15] Minor Threat, (1981) Anarchy Is Dead, Government Issue.

[16] Minor Threat (1981) ‘Out Of Step’, In My Eyes

[17] Time Magazine Aug. 30, 1999

[18] “People think you’re violent and in your face as soon as you’re labelled Straight Edge” Anonymous female survey respondent, aged 18 from Columbus Ohio USA.

[19] Leblanc, L (199) P48

[20] Glynis Hull-Rochelle, In Lahickey, B. P74

[21] Hartley, 1966; Vinovskis, 1988; Minkler and Roe, 1993. From Weeks, J. Holland, J.(Eds) P115

[22] 42000 reported births to under 18 year olds, 50000 people living with HIV, 10% of British women infected with Chlamydia, 500% rise in syphilis cases in past 5 years. As reported in The Independent Newspaper, November 2004.

[23] Cagle, Van M. (1995) P31


[24] Ian MacKaye. In Azerrad, M (2001) P131

[25] ‘Bling Bling’ is a slang term used in hip-hop, referring to large gold jewellery worn to show status and wealth.

[26]Durkheim, E., The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Free Press, New York, 1965. In Religion, Thompson, I. 1986, 14.]

[27] Argyle (1975) P47

[28] Argyle (1975) P59

[29] Bellah, R. N. (1976), In Thompson, I. (1986)

[30] MacKaye, I. From Sinker, D (Ed). (2001) P28

[31] Salvation Army view on alcohol and drugs, see appendix

[32] Ex Youth Of Today and Shelter member

[33] Hare Krishna Hard Core, by Erik Davis, originally appeared in Spin, summer, 1995

[34] Lahickey, B (1997) P33
[35] Hare Krishna Hard Core, by Erik Davis, originally appeared in Spin, summer, 1995
[36] Argyle (1975) P48


[37] Hare Krishna Hard Core, by Erik Davis, originally appeared in Spin, summer, 1995.

[38] See appendix

[39] Anonymous male survey respondent aged 22 from Wisconsin, USA.

[40] Testimony of Dr, Joe Stuessy, U.S. Congress, Record Labelling (Senate hearing 99-529), 117. In Weinstein, D., Heavy Metal. P2

[41] LaVey, A., The Satanic Bible.

[42] Argyle (1975) P168

[43] Scharff, J.L. (2004) P580

[44] Stenmark (2001)


[45] Poole, M (1994) 58

[46] Bella, 1976 In Thompson (1986) P97


[47] http://www.howsyouredge.com/edgebreak/index.php

[48] Johnson, G., in Thompson, I. Religion. 1986, 97

Survey Results Analysis

Reasons For Becoming Straight Edge: Males compared to Females

  • The percentage of females with an alcoholic or drug abuser in the family was over double the percentage of males with this experience.
  • Exactly the same percentage for males and females disapproved of drink and drug use.
  • Almost the same percentage of males and females had had a bad experience with drink or dugs themselves.
  • Twice the percentage of males reacted to seeing the effects of drink or drugs on others.
  • Only males reported Straight Edge as a means of stopping excess drinking / drugs.
  • Almost twice the percentage of females claimed for health, self-respect and control reasons than males.
  • Only males reported death of friends or family, suitability to existing beliefs or behaviours, political or social rebellion, musical influence or boredom with substances.

Overall, the reason that was most reported for claiming Straight Edge was alcoholism or drug abuse in the family. This shows a direct anit-correlation with the research by Scharff on offspring of alcoholics, where findings concluded more dysfunction and impulsiveness amongst children of alcoholics than non-alcoholics. (J.L.Scharff et al. / Addictive Behaviours 29 (2004) 575-581)

Research by Chassin et al also suggests that familial alcoholism and drug use increases the risk of these behaviours in children, whereas my research clearly shows that familial alcoholism can producer rebellion against these behaviours too. (Chassin et al. / Trajectories of Alcohol and Drug Use and Dependence From Adolescence to Adulthood: The Effects of Familial Alcoholism and Personality, Journal of Abnormal Psychology Vol 113, Issue 4, (2004))





Comments
Written by Guest on 2005-08-02 08:17:54actually, perhaps i had better explain the context of this a little more… this isnt an article as such. It’s a thesis I wrote for my degree at university. It is an academic piece, assuming nothing and having to validate everything stated by way of evidence in the form of surveys, or use of texts from the bibliography. Mentioning the racial elements, the fashion, religion and pop culture was part of the exploration, and if you were to study the texts in the bibliography you would see what this entails within academia. I realise that most people will have never read text like this before, but you should understand that it is not possible to discount any of those elements that could be seen to have influenced the subculture, as then it would not be a logical or valid thesis. Nothing stated is speculative, it is all either factual or taken from academics writing in social contexts, or from the results of the survey i carried out myself over 3 months and 150 different people.
yes but
Written by Guest on 2005-08-02 08:05:24its a degree thesis, it has to be based on the writings of others, thats the whole point of it being academia. I wasnt allowed to put in my own ideas without backing them up with writings by others. The point of it wasn’t to be for or against anything or to segregate or bring together anyone, it was merely an academic exploration of a subculture in terms of its characteristics.
skim reading
Written by venona on 2005-07-30 21:09:39I read through a lot of the topics completely and skimmed all of them. I give you credit for trying to “disect” straight edge but this article contained a lot of flaws that in the end almost segregates people within the straight edge community.  
 
A lot of what you wrote makes straight edge seem like a racial issue and with a lot of comparison to the skinhead lifestyle could confuse many. Seeing as not all people know much about skinheads if someone not to farmiliar with the straight edge life style read this they might assume you were refering to skinhead neo nazi’s and with mention of a backlash agianst “black rooted culture” it would make straight edge seem like a racist movement. 
 
I think my biggest issue with this is it’s being compared as a whole to everything else when straight is an entity within itself. Straight edge is obviously a personal decision but you make it seem like its a community movement. Yes, a lot of people within the hardcore scene are straight edge but just as many arent. The hardcore scene itself is the community representation and straight edge itself is a personal lifestyle choice.  
 
I think there was to much emphasis on peoples fashion, religious conotation, other subcultures, and pop culture. 
 
I think the fact that you say it is religious but it isnt because there is no godbase makes no sense. If religion is based of off god then how can straight edge be religious if it doesnt base itself off of god? I understand some religions are against alcohol but I think the only real connection is the concept of morals. 
 
Too much of this is based off of previous writing and ideas of others and it honestly bypasses straight edge and turns it more into a piece about the exterior of everything.
Written by tiger on 2005-07-30 21:09:24I would have liked to have covered a lot more, but was limited to 8000 words, or they downgrade you! Maybe I will write more soon. Thanks for the comments, really appreciated x
Long yes…
Written by chadstrife on 2005-07-27 00:56:46But pretty good.
Written by latinxhxcxgirl on 2005-07-25 05:55:28I’ve liked some text of this, but I would like to read the whole thesis when I have enough time to do it.  nice work
ill admit..i skipped a few paragraphs…
Written by deadlywhenasleepxkx on 2005-07-24 00:53:39yea..i did skip a bit..but i did read most of it…i think you did an outstanding job…but…what about the reno issues?…courage crew…sounds nice..but…there actions are far below that…i dont like them from what youve stated, heard, read about…theyre meanies 0.o
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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