Walter Bond (Animal Liberation Captive): Why I Am Straight Edge

I am Straight Edge because I hate drugs and alcohol. I don’t want to use them, I don’t want to be around other people who use them and I want nothing to do with drug culture, the bar scene, etc. What separates me from being simply drug free is that I actively stand against drug culture and I have taken a life time oath to abstain from the filth of inebriation.

I suppose every person that claims Straight Edge has their own set of reasons and values that they ascribe to it. for most it is a phase that they go through, a music scene with associated fashions they identify with, or a peer group to belong to that is obscure enough to satisfy a tribal desire. I went through all that decades ago and while it was fun and I still enjoy the music it ceased to be about crews, and bands, and dance moves for me along time ago. Being honest that was never my main stay in Straight Edge to begin with. so I guess………. Well, I guess I’ll start at my beginning.

I was raised around drugs and alcohol. My biological father whom I never knew went to federal prison for meth. I met him when I was a teenager. I went to visit him at the prison camp. I talked with him two more times when he got out but there was no chemistry between us. The father I grew up with drank. And I mean drank more alcohol than I would think is humanly possible, his insides must of looked like a pickle jar! And he played music on top of working fulltime as a welder.

My mother drank as well but nothing like dad. She preferred to smoke weed and had a habit of marrying drunks. Without getting into all the minutia it suffices to say that drugs and alcohol led to my parents divorce when I was ten years old and the stability of my dysfunctional home life was never to return.

By 12 years old I was smoking weed. By 13 I was doing every drug I could get my hands on (turns out I have an addictive personality). By 16 I crashed and burned. I don’t know how long I had been awake on meth, and I don’t know how many other drugs I had in my system. Honestly, I only remember bits and pieces. I remember coming home and arguing with my step-dad. I remember having a kitchen knife in my hand. I remember being face down on the couch with a knee in my back. I remember the cops coming in the door with hands on their guns and I remember them tackling me. Then I remember waking up in a mental hospital.

Apparently I had an episode of drug induced psychosis which is just a fancy way of saying I went nuts from drug use. After this I was not the same. I felt shaky, unsure, and honestly frightened that I could not control myself. I was sent to a rehab for a couple months which didn’t really help. All I learned there was that I should never believe in myself but instead a ‘higher power’ and that I was somehow diseased and there was no cure except to get involved with a 12 step group. I decided to bypass the whole mess and I took one step. Which was this: next time I felt like using any drug or alcohol…….I didn’t.

For me this worked. However it worked because I already knew what I needed. I heard it growing up in the music I listened too. Gorilla Biscuits, Youth Of Today, Uniform Choice and Sick Of It All. I had already decided from the day I woke up from my drug induced insanity that what I needed was Straight Edge. Now to take you back a little bit. This was the early 90’s and Straight Edge in my town was becoming judgmental, it was becoming purist, it was at times violent and it was becoming very proud to be exclusive. And I fucking loved it! I knew from everything I had experienced in my young life that drugs and drink were a sickness an illness of the willpower and a social cancer within society. But it wasn’t until I really embraced Straight Edge that I believed in myself enough to rise up and overcome this demon within me.

Everything I had experienced against drug addiction either sought to get me not to believe in my own ability and become dependent on programs or was just trying to push me into religion. Neither of these appealed to me. Ever since I can remember people in the scene have complained about the hyper-masculinity of Straight Edge (I wouldn’t say it was hyper-masculine as much as it was simply aggressive) and the judgmental attitudes often displayed in the lifestyle. But the other side of it is that when your a kid, from the streets, a broken home, with addiction and anger boiling up inside of you this was the place where it could come out and be directed not only in a more positive way than a street gang but at the actual antagonist, at the problem itself!

And so it was, I was reborn. I loved my sobriety and with an equal passion I grew to hate not only addiction but the drug users and dealers as well. Today when I reflect back I see where I was too absolute in my views but I don’t think I was far off the mark. In my experience you can help the occasional individual IF they have the propensity and earnest desire to change. However, as a group it’s undeniable that addicts are morally deficient, underhanded and cast blame everywhere but on the self. What is truly horrible is not the horrors that a drunk or druggie puts themselves through but the high price and the emotional and physical damage that innocent bystanders, loved ones and the communities where they live suffer.

Anyways to continue, I noticed that as I got older many of the people around me sold out, gave up or dropped the title. this never really bothered me. I didn’t feel that those that left had betrayed the scene or lied to us all. The only time it pissed me off and still does is when they want to cash in on, reunite, or relive the Straight Edge days as if they are still valid. To those individuals I have only contempt because if it ever meant anything to them they would feel awkward and out of place after having pissed all over what they once held so dear. Of course, that never happens in a social vacuum and there are, unfortunately, always plenty of other sellouts, nostalgia mongers, and ‘non-judgmental’ Straight Edge kids that support these losers.

But as I said in the beginning I’m older now and am not so much interested in this or that music scene or fashion show. But I am every bit as against drugs and drug culture as I ever was and that won’t change. I feel like somewhere in my late 20’s I quit being part of Straight Edge and it just became part of me. A large part of my character was shaped around this because I never left it, I never gave it up and in one way or another I have always been proud to represent this.

And my hope for the future of Straight Edge is for it to retain itself outside the music and after the show is over as a personal force AGAINST drugs and alcohol and FOR a sane and sober way of life. Because as we age the peer pressure to use and to drink, is more than it is in youth. But so also is our personal power to make a change.

Walter Bond