In the documentary Dirty Old Town, which profiles Ted Leo & the Pharmacists while on tour for Hearts of Oak, Leo mentions that he is a vegan. When I heard him say that the first time, a lot of odd memories came back to me. When Davey Havok from AFI told Rolling Stone and AP about his favorite vegan desserts, those memories came back again. To me, hearing about that stuff now is purely from a personal stance, but I remember when talking about that stuff was more of a banner than anything else.
When I was getting into pop-punk and hardcore, openly discussing your personal stances was a huge deal. There was a sense of "I'm better than you" with decisions like choosing not to drink alcohol, supporting animal rights and how involved you were with "the scene." I could be totally off here, but from what I've seen, this younger generation of punk and hardcore fans isn't all wrapped up in that stuff.
In 1997, as I was discovering bands like Snapcase, Lifetime, Pennywise and Lagwagon, I was on a few list-serv e-mail lists. Discussions about new records and live shows would be brought up, but there were plenty of immature debates about straight edge, religion and punk rock too. Certain people lived for these confrontations, but I wasn't one of them. Looking back on what I saw, I just see these as attempts in finding a voice.
The ideas that Ian MacKaye sang about in "Straight Edge" and "Out of Step" were strictly from the angle of addressing those who liked getting drunk, smoking pot and sexually fooling around. There was a sense of kinship with being straight edge, but followers really ran the idea into the ground. Tacking on stuff like being a vegetarian, not smoking anything, not having any sex and supporting animal rights, the messages really clouded the overall presentation. For the bands that didn't make a huge fuss about strict personal politics and beliefs, I felt a kinship with them more than the other ones.
With modern day bands singing more about sadness and love, I have yet to see a lot of bands wave their personal politics around. Anti-Flag and Rise Against are some of the exceptions and I'm sure there are plenty of debates on message boards about their stances. For what I've gone through and seen, I really don't have time to read that crap anymore. I haven't heard much of Anti-Flag's music and have Rise Against's first three albums. It's not really the kind of stuff I like to listen to, but it's not bad. How straight someone like Tim McIlrath or Justin Sane is isn't a swaying vote for me with listening to their music.
I have no problem with wanting to share your personal politics and beliefs. However, I roll my eyes at those that feel their politics and beliefs are right for everyone. I choose to not excessively drink, but I'm not about to read the riot act to someone who does. I might say I have a "clear mind" because I'm not drinking, but I wouldn't be thinking clearly if I was acting all uptight about it.