Monday, October 6, 2008

Amethyst Initiative

You may or may not have already heard about the Amethyst Initiative, a project begun by chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States who have "signed their names to a public statement that the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses."

The public statement is a truly brave and powerful message that includes three main points:
  1. It's time to rethink the drinking age
  2. Twenty-one is not working
  3. How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?
What is most amazing about this initiative, though, is the reaction against it. Some of the most prestigious and intelligent people in our society have come out calling for a national debate on the merits of prohibition and some people are angry! Perhaps most vocally, Mothers Against Drunk Driving have sought to counter the initiative. The subtitle of one MADD article reads: "University Presidents Misguided in Signing Initiative to Discuss Lowering the Drinking Age." Leading public intellectuals want a debate on whether the drinking age works? The audacity! How dare they propose a discussion! Check out this clip for additional background:

The fact that a group of over 100 highly respected academics can call for debate on a matter of public policy and hear in response not only that they are a minority, but that people are scared of their debate is amazing. To find out if your university president has signed on to this initiative, you can find the full list of signatories here. Considering how MADD is c
alling on the public "to send physical letters to [] governors or college presidents on the list asking them to remove their names from the initiative list and support the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age", perhaps you should consider sending a letter to your university president thanking them for signing up or urging them to do so.

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