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INTERVIEW: BRING BACK PROHIBITION

Originally Published: 2006
Written by: ANONYMOUS   

“Street by street / Block by block / Taking it all back”: Bring Back Prohibition and the Militant Straight Edge

Most people from the outside know straight-edge by its extremes:  on the one end, there is the posi-core version that wants people to have a substance-free good time, and on the other, the violent gangs accused of randomly attacking kids for smoking a cigarette or drinking a beer, that we hear about through biased media sources.  But the straight-edge community is a much broader spectrum, and within this are the groups that hover between the two extremes – the groups that have the idealism, unity and loyalty inherent to all straight-edge philosophies, but combined with militancy and anger that keeps them at a sharp distance from many. They don’t see straight-edge as a lifestyle choice – they see it as a movement.  Bring Back Prohibition is one of these groups.

Taking its name from the Prohibition era of the early 20th century (part of the Temperance Movement in the U.S.), Bring Back Prohibition seeks to, in a sense; pick up where that movement left off.  Just as there were vocal but peaceful abolitionists during the Prohibition movement, there were also those who felt they needed to use more than their voices to make an impact.  The most well-known of the second group would be Carrie Nation.  A member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Nation became famous for entering saloons, hatchet in hand, and smashing bottles of alcohol, all while singing and praying for the bar patrons – acts which some may deem too extreme, but which Nation saw as necessary in order to get people to listen.  She worked alongside the other women in the W.C.T.U. in distributing pamphlets and lecturing, and involved herself in social issues like prison reform and public health; but she, unlike many of the other W.C.T.U. members, didn’t feel that this was enough – it wasn’t making enough of a difference.  She saw society as needing a stronger wake-up call – one that couldn’t come solely from a newsletter or a speech – it needed some kind of decisive action behind it.  She knew she couldn’t coerce people into changing their behavior – but she could at least make them listen.     

Present day groups like Bring Back Prohibition seek to reinstate this kind of movement, one that employs all methods of influence. Groups like B.B.P. are not only raising money, writing and distributing information, and supporting local groups with similar causes, but they are also putting themselves at the frontlines at demonstrations, protests, rallies, etc., risking their own freedom and safety in order to protect and defend the voiceless.  For these groups, words are not enough – the words must be supported by direct actions.

Borrowing from past revolutionary and rebellious groups like the W.C.T.U. and the Black Panther Party, the B.B.P. Movement seeks to fight against what it considers to be social evils.  In a sense, the movement isn’t unlike the hippies of the 60s, fighting for a kind of ideal return to nature and, ultimately, peace and balance.  Their methodology, however, puts them in direct opposition to the hippies, making them more like those who were fighting in the war than those who were against it. Groups like the B.B.P. Movement are, at once, idealists and soldiers – though their goals are peaceful, they are very aware that to achieve these ends, the means will often lead to battles.  Unlike most wars, though, these battles aren’t over territory or religion.  The enemies in this war aren’t always visible – they aren’t just the companies, or the farms, or the mills – they’re also more subversive enemies that lie within ourselves: enemies like addiction and apathy.

The following is an interview conducted with Jaredx, an administrator for the B.B.P. Movement:

How did the B.B.P. Movement come into being?

A friend of the founder was killed by a drunk driver, which resulted in the questioning of sXe kids’ involvement in greater issues related to sXe.  It called for the further questioning of why we oppose drugs and alcohol, and how being drug-free is bettering our world.  The conclusion was that being drug and alcohol free is not enough; we have to be pro-active in a struggle against them and collaborate with other sXe people to build an organization that combats these evils.  I was asked to set up a chapter of B.B.P. in Texas, where I was living at the time, and things just went from there.  Eventually, we set up chapters all over the place: Australia, California, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, Vermont, North Carolina, Switzerland, Italy, Wisconsin, and lots more.

What are some of the causes, organizations, groups, etc., that B.B.P. actively supports?

We strongly support Mothers Against Drunk Driving because they have more power than us in regard to legislation and petitioning the government to make stricter laws concerning drunk driving, legal drinking age, etc.  We have donated hundreds of dollars to M.A.D.D. through various sources.  We also support a variety of local student sobriety groups such as S.T.A.N.D.  B.B.P. is composed of dedicated sXe individuals and, while we do operate under guidelines, we all come from various social and political groups.  Many of us are vegan and involved in some type of animal liberation group, and support others in that struggle.  I, myself, ask everyone interested in working with B.B.P. to look to other revolutionary-minded organizations like the Irish Republican Army and the Black Panther Party.

How do you view straight-edge today? Do you see it as something that’s progressed and improved?

I feel that the true sXe have, for the most part, remained the same over the years.  Numbers rise and fall as trends dictate, which is something we are trying to change.  B.B.P. has no allegiance with sellouts – we feel that selling out is in no way progressive and we want to guide our culture into conscious resistance of the demented social norm.  Sometimes, people within the sXe movement want to be involved, but don’t have enough pride or conviction to maintain.  B.B.P. seems to be gaining ground every day and our numbers are growing as well as our acceptance by the sXe and surrounding communities.  Hopefully, that shows positive progression in the sXe movement.  The people who condemn us are usually the ones who drop out after six months.  I also think that sXe has always run closely to hardcore music, and the hardcore scene has suffered since the nineties; the most popular hardcore bands don’t stand for anything anymore.  So, sXe is breaking away from hardcore and expanding to other genres, like hip hop and metal.

How do you react to the newer people involved in straight-edge, ones that might be interested in the B.B.P. Movement?  Is it a movement that welcomes new additions, or is there a certain suspicion immediately cast upon new arrivals?

There is always suspicion without trust, and trust doesn’t come easy in sXe.  We do encourage everyone’s efforts to help out and volunteer.  We try to get to know people before just letting them speak for us or represent this organization, because some people use it as a forum for scene status or image, and we try to keep that from happening.  B.B.P. is a formal organization that someone can join – we ask that they follow our guidelines, keep in close contact with the other chapters, and maintain a good level of activity.

Would you consider the B.B.P. Movement to be an exclusionary one?  Hardline was often criticized as being sexist, homophobic, racist, etc.; do you see this movement as the same kind of segregating community or is there some level of acceptance of differences?

Hardline was sadly misunderstood; the things it was criticized for were sometimes very far from the truth.  Still, I will try to learn from the mistakes of others and keep B.B.P. from falling into the same rut, as long as I have the power to do so.  B.B.P. is not exclusive as far as race, religion, sex, sexuality, etc.  As long as you are dedicated to sXe and the fight against drugs and alcohol, we are glad to have you on board.  Many people dedicated to B.B.P. come from different religious or atheist backgrounds.  There will always be varying levels of accepting differences in B.B.P, depending on the individual.  I, myself, am a militant vegan, but there are people in B.B.P., that I couldn’t do this without, who are not even vegetarian.  It’s about struggling side by side to make lasting change.

You said that you feel hardline was misunderstood.  What do you think were the biggest misconceptions about hardline?  Is it something that you think still exists or should exist?

 I think, personally, that hardline was great.  I will support any militant drug-free group with eco and animal liberation views.  Hardline was beautiful and as close to perfection as mortal people can get.

If you were to overthrow the system, how would you change things?  Does the B.B.P. Movement have an ideal agenda like the 10 Point Plan of the Black Panther Party in terms of what you want to achieve politically, economically, socially, etc.?

When talking in “ifs”, it opens the door to much speculation and guesswork, which I don’t feel is plausible at the present time.  We have long-term and short-term goals, but don’t see a utopian world coming anytime soon, even if it already exists in our hearts.  Socially, we would like to achieve a drug-free world, one where it would be the norm to stand against drugs.  We want to rally and educate our communities to make the decision to close the bars and the saloons, and abolish the drug dealers.  Most people have a strong dislike for drugs as it is, but see them as normal or unavoidable.  We know that drugs are not necessary and do more harm than good.  So, really, who needs it?  Not the people.

What about medication, over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs – is your goal to erase them from our culture as well, or do you put them in a different category than illegal or recreational drug use?

 It could be a long-term goal if we had that kind of influence over culture.  We see it as a case of fighting the biggest evils first, which, as far as drug use is concerned, would be alcohol and tobacco.  Medication and the pharmaceutical industries are guilty of some of the sickest things, though, like animal testing and supporting chemical dependency rather than seeking natural cures.  For instance, they would rather cure depression with drugs than beat depression by eliminating the things in our culture which cause it.  Medication usually only worsens the problem because the side effects often affect you more than what the drug was made to fight against.  You trade one sickness for another and create a state of dependency on an evil drug company.  We need to seek better ways of living and, while this may be too idealistic for some, I feel it’s a necessary step in human and animal liberation.

You advocate the idea of using “any means necessary” to promote your causes and create change.  Do you see violence as something that’s necessary in modern society in order for a movement to be effective and influence people?
Violence is a tool which, when used in some situations, will undoubtedly result in more harm than good.  B.B.P. is an above-ground organization – therefore, we cannot openly promote the use of violence.  However, from an ideological standpoint, we understand that the companies and drug dealers we oppose act in violence on a large scale every single day, so similar actions against them should be seen as self-defense.  We support strategic violence against planned targets, against those that we oppose.  If someone were to be accused of such an act, we would defend the act as justifiable self-defense and try to lend as much monetary and moral support as possible.  Violence is too hard to define; often, property destruction is mislabeled by the media as violence when, in our eyes, property destruction is sometimes clearly justified.  Removing drug dealers and closing bars is not violence; even if you resort to aggressive tactics, stopping death merchants is preventing further violence.  Drunk driving is violence – smashing a drunk driver or closing a bar is preventing such violence.  We operate via education, fundraising and direct action; each volunteer chooses his/her own path and activity.  We have no control over others.  We realize that some people will feel compelled to break unjust laws that protect drug dealers, and we hope our soldiers never get caught and never fall.  We don’t tell people to break laws, but we understand it will happen, whether we tell them to or not.  Everyone that doesn’t agree with the modern American agenda is blacklisted as a terrorist – another loaded word with unclear definitions.

How do you define terrorism?  Do you consider B.B.P. as a kind of terrorist organization?

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter – it all depends on your world-view.  Therefore, I reject the term “terrorism” based on the fact that it’s a media buzz-word with no clear definition.  Does it mean “to induce terror”?  Well, then the U.S. government is a terrorist organization.  The government calls the I.R.A., the A.L.F., the E.L.F., and the P.L.O. terrorists, but I see those people as heroes and freedom fighters, so I’m not exactly offended if someone compares us to those types of groups.  B.B.P. is a very small organization; even though we grow every day, we are small enough to fly under the radar and manage to avoid mainstream media attention.  This is working out for us at the moment, but we realize that one day we will be so large that some people will want to paint us black.  Any time you stand for something, you make enemies, and even though we are above-ground, we see sXe as a war – one we are proud to fight – so we are willing to face the backlash.

What do you think were the flaws of the Prohibition era? What went wrong with that movement and caused it to, ultimately, fail?
 When the government realized that poor immigrants were making a living off of alcohol, they decided to transfer the wealth to rich, White, law-abiding men, who held power and implemented a high tax off of alcohol by legalizing it.  Some people fear the term “prohibition” because of scary Hollywood Mafia goons, but the Mafia never killed someone every 18 seconds, like alcohol does legally.  Lack of dedication will cause any idea to fail or fall short.  There must be social reform and education before laws can be implemented; someone must understand why alcohol cannot be tolerated before they can be expected to give it up.  Prohibition must be as much of a social revolution as a political one.

What are the ultimate goals of this movement?
To create social change and restore sXe to its former level of activity; to make sXe a threat to the evil corporations that trade in drugs and human life, and to the corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials that bring in and sell illegal drugs; to combat and fully destroy drug merchants of any kind, legal or illegal.  The ultimate goal would be the betterment of our planet and the salvation of its good people.  Too many lives are taken down the drain; too much potential is lost or squandered due to drug use.  We want to take our lives back and help you take yours back, as well.  We want to take it all back one piece at a time.  I want to see every bar and liquor store closed for good.  There is a drug war, but so far it has been a war against innocent people waged by drug dealers and the drugs themselves that perpetuate addictions.  The government presents their false image of a drug war, which is just a front for the prison industrial complex.  We offer another army in this war – one without political or monetary ambition.  We want to make sure there is someone, on some level, fighting against the drug trade.  There is no other radical organization like us, in which standing against drugs is the main focus.  Hopefully, that will change and more will arise.  The drug problem is killing our children and making sure that they will inherit a corrupt society, filled with misery and despair.

Also, I want to thank a few people for their dedication to this cause and to sXe, in general.

Thanks to all of the B.B.P. volunteers worldwide; special thanks to you for making this interview happen; to Danny for getting this all started – you have done more for the modern sXe movement than anyone else I can think of; to the kids in Colorado B.B.P. for their amazing work; to the kids in Texas B.B.P. for staying true despite so much opposition; and most importantly, thanks to Luke in Australia for all of your help and dedication – we would be lost without you.
xxx
For more info on B.B.P. or advice on adopting a drug free life style, please contact [email protected]

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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