"Sell-outs" and What is Wrong With the Straight-Edge Community

I think this statement by Ray Cappo (Youth of Today, Shelter, Better than a Thousand) summarizes well what I think is wrong with the straight-edge scene. We do too much finger-pointing and not enough introspection. We need to build a scene where we don't crucify "sell-outs," but rather lend an understanding ear to their needs and concerns. Personally, I think that if someone takes up drinking or smoking-up or whatever, they're doing so to fill a void or deal with a problem in their life, and the last thing a person in this situation needs is to be ostracized by so-called friends. It is times like these that our friendships are needed most, so we should do all that we can to be compassionate and understanding. Who knows, maybe through love, understanding, and setting a positive example, we can help those who have fallen off the edge to get back on and walk the straight path.


Ray Cappo on Straight Edge, Community, Love, and Fanaticism

Over the years I've ignored most of the gossip I've heard about myself. I find gossip a waste of time for both the hearer as well as the speaker. I let it go, "Ray Cappo's dead, Ray Cappo's in Jail, Ray Cappo has a secret arcade in the temple basement, Ray Cappo's not a Krishna.... I know all these things first hand" But I must address my recent accusation... "Ray Cappo's a drunkard and gets wasted everynight on tour with Better than 1000 and preaches Straight edge on stage, and this is why Jeff Neuman quit the band, due to Ray Cappo's blatant hypocrisy".

Sit back cuz all this I'm going to address all this, and not to save my face, but to point out the fucking idiocy, psychosis, and the neurotic behavior that has comes about in our hardcore scene over something like SXE, which was initially intended (at least in my book) to better one self and have one keep their body and mind in control. These principles I love and support and rally behind both in my lyrics and for the most part, in my life.

Important personal backround: As a person I love natural foods, healthy living, working out, natural medicine martial arts, yoga, enlightening literature and good friends. I hate; lethargy, laziness, junkfood, duplicity, arrogance. For the most part I try to steer myself in the direction of the first batch although I'm definitely not perfect. I don't like intoxication and I never really have. I don't like how it makes my body feel, I don't like the fact that it destroys my liver and brain cells and I don't like the fact of potentially doing something ridiculous by my not having control over my body and senses.

But I've grown, the hard way into becoming very accepting of people that do drink, smoke or whatever. I guess because when YOT started I had fanatic blood in me. (which I think mellowed down by the time Break Down the Walls came out, only to be traded in for fanatic Krishna blood which sort of calmed down by the time of MANTRA was released) I condemned, criticized and belittled those who weren't like me. Any shit I get now from kids is some karma I'm going to have to eat so I don't even mind so much.

My real important lesson over the years was that there has to be a motive behind things. WHY? WHY are we SXE? What's our motivation behind the Act? Is it merely so we can get a "True till Death Tattoo"? Is it because we want to feel accepted in a crew and part of an elite rank? IS it because we have a hardcore hero that is? Or is it because we want to better ourselves in this lifetime? Now I hope you chose the last one. If you chose any of the others I think you should start being a little reflective, perhaps start thinking for yourself and develop your own opinions.

Whenever we do something for self-improvement we should be careful not to be arrogant though. This is the sticky web the fanatic gets caught in all the time. The Fanatic hates dialogue. There's one way. His way. The only way. We've all witnessed it with bible thumping Christians, Bhagavad Gita thumping Krishna's or banner waving SXEer's. Fanatics don't necessarily even know Why they are intowhat they're into a generally can't explain it very well to an educated person. They're generally arrogant. Arrogance is not a quality those who want to improve themselves cherish. We generally don't see arrogant people as evolved. So, the question is, "if you're getting into straight edge for bettering yourself, why develop arrogance alongside of it?

The real sad gist of it all is that not all people get into SXE for the right reasons and they further complicate their lives. For example, my mother. She's not SXE. But she's great. She's funny, sweet and would do anything for anybody at any time of the day. If I chose to call her up right now (I'm in Washington DC) and said "mom (she's in NYC) I don't feel good can you come down here" She would come. At the same time I know a few SXE kids who are the biggest meanest assholes I ever met. Which is a higher principle?

When Youth of Today would play in Boston and Slapshot would put meat products on our van did I have any respect for their version of SXE. No. As a matter of fact from then on I realized people have different motivations why they get into it and a lot of times it's less than noble. In the name of this noble movement we have some people doing some real fucked up things yet feeling safe, self righteous, above the rest behind their SXE banner. This is fucking disgusting- right up there with the inquisitions, Salem witch-hunts, Ku Klux Klan, and McCarthyism. Hiding behind a veil of perfection but fueled by arrogance. How 'bout SXE band that recently had a stripper over there house and were licking whip cream off her body. Is this type of depersonalization of women something to be self righteous about?

Let me also state that this is the exact same reason why I gave up waving a Krishna banner. Not because I don't believe in Krishna, God or the particular way of life...I don't preach it unsolicited because I felt the same thing was going on in that scene too. Arrogance in the name self betterment (I was guilty of it too-an apology) I've forced myself to become accepting of others because, fuck, maybe other people have some good idea's too. Fuck maybe I'm not the smartest most perfect guy I thought I was, and fuck I don't even know the person yet I'm jumping to all these conclusions about them.

My crime was when I was in Italy, in wine country, in a particular village in front of the entire band I had a glass of wine with my meal. Big fucking deal. Some how this turned into "Ray's been Drinking in Europe". (There's an equal amount of truth in that statement as in Bill Clinton's "I didn't have sex....") It's nothing I'm ashamed of. It's nothing I even thought twice about. It's nothing I feel to be ethically twisted or a philosophical U turn. Has it scarred my character? I think, and I'm sure any practicing psychiatrist would think that if you have a problem with it then you've got the problem, not me. Is this type of neurotic finger pointing the sign of people psychologically healthy and secure with their own convictions? Even if I got wasted out of my mind...why is that anyones business or problem but my own? Shouldn't one offer sympathy rather than cruelty? I urge peoplee to really look at why we became straightedge. Is it merely to prove we're better than other people? No. This is fucking wrong.

Here's the other sad thing. Imagine if I did get drunk every night. What kind of a community have we developed that a person gets, condemned ostracized and expelled rather than encouraged loved and supported by friends? Wouldn't true friends say, "shit ray you've been getting drunk every night, are you going through a rough time or something? Could I help in any way? Do you need a friend to talk to?" This is friendship in my book. This is the type of community I want to be a part of. Wouldn't you want that as a friend instead of a fair whether Judas who betrays you in a moment. Finger pointing SXE kids should take a lesson from Alcoholics Anonymous. I recently went to an AA meeting with a friend who is a recovering alcoholic to observe their techniques in healing and empathy. The groups trust and lack of judgement fascinated me. Because they've developed a society of trust and confidentiality, people feel free to entirely reveal they're faults, which is a first step for improving them. The others in turn empathetically listen and encourage. I was so impressed by their character and aspire to be like that too. I want to become that type of friend that a person can really trust and count on.

So here's the deal. If we want to become SXE, Krishna, Vegan, Vegetarian, Hardcore, or what ever do it for the soul reason that WE want to become it. These are personal choices. Practically speaking no one else's business. Once we make them into political parties they tend to be self-defeating. We should be happy with ourselves and not make others feel intimidated because they're not like us. If we actually want to influence (a lot of these groups want to preach because they're into what they believe) follow the Advice of Socrates. Just become happy and balanced with your life. Socrates said being a living example is the best form of influence. It's better than debate or preaching. If you 're happy and balanced people will want to be like you. You need not even speak unless asked.

To me life and spirituality has become so personal. I don't talk about it unless people want to know. I'm saddened by the even the questions "are you straight edge or are you Krishna?" because I don't want to be sized up by people right off the bat. I want people to respect or disrespect me for what I am,and get to know me but not because I wear particular logo or subscribe to a particular philosophy.

In closing I especially feel sad for the bands who rant and rave about fallen SXE heroes on stage and how fucked up they are. I know all those fallen SXE edge heroes. I grew up with them and they were good people with good hearts who said good things and changed a lot of people's lives. (Even yours Toby) If they can't live up to those principles today it's sad but maybe they're better off in some other way that you or I can't see. Instead of scrutinizing their foibles, why not scrutinize your own? Encourage and support each other. Life is a long path filled with ups and downs. If you're down someday won't it be nice if someone picks you up. Most of all people be kind.- rc

"I know what I'm shooting for and I know how I felt and I don't have to prove it to anybody cuz I already proved it to myself. No matter where I am in this world I know exactly where I stand . I thought we were on the same side. But at least I know that I fucking tried." YOT put it aside

"I use to think that labels were just symbols of pride but over time I see they only serve to divide. It's easy to judge people by the way they seem to be but we must over come these problems to live life peacefully" YOT- break down the walls

"Empathize can I look through your eyes, I'll find, different paradigms and different minds , never two of a kind and that will bring me back down to size again" Shelter Empathy

"I think that it's true it was people like you who crucified Christ, and I think that it's sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced" this is from After Forever, a Sabbath song shelter covered in Ozzy's reference to fanatical born again christians.

"just lump everyone in then you don't have to begin to use discrimination...I'm no religious institution or denomination I a separate personality....don't put your labels on me...there's somuch more you can't see"...Shelter "Not Just a Package"

"narcissism a selfish prison..shackled to our ego but I'll practice being kind"-Better than a Thousand "Born to Give"

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