Yesterday, news was released that 115 campus administrators from around the country (including the presidents of Lewis & Clark and Willamette Universities) wanted to take a look at the national drinking age. These administrators released a statement, called the Amethyst Initiative, in hopes that it would spark a discussion on underage drinking. It has certainly done that.

But it's strange to me that reporting on the the issue suggests that the amethyst initiative supporters are asking for the drinking age be rolled back to 18. It ain't necessarily so. What they do ask is that we have: informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.

Plain and simple. Though, the statement does point out a double standard: while people under twenty-one are allowed to vote, serve on a jury, and kill America's enemies, they're not allowed the sweet satisfaction of a cold beer when said duties are done. Of course, all of those responsibilities are given at age 18. So, I could see why one might jump straight to the whole age rollback thing.

Never-the-less, I think the initiative needs to be seriously considered. If anyone knows the scourge of underage binge drinking, it's campus administrators. I'm sure all it takes is one 18 year old frat boy dying of alcohol poisoning to get your attention. If they're telling me the current drinking age isn't working, then I'm inclined to believe them.

More unsolicited opinion after the jump

Let's face it. The United States doesn't necessarily have a very good relationship with alcohol. On one hand, we celebrate the good time mystique of booze, through ads featuring buxom blonds and fit fellas with fuck-me-eyes plastered between every touchdown, home-run and slam dunk on television. Then, when someone happens to get drunk or have too much fun, we revel in their shame and shun them for the excess. What's a kid supposed to think?

No-one ever talked to me about alcohol. I was probably 15 when I started binge drinking. It was fruit jars and stolen booze on the golf course at midnight, a lot of vomit, some shameful sex and a fair amount lost to blackness. The legal drinking age meant nothing to me and my pals and not once did we ever encounter law enforcement or significant barriers to our lush lifestyles.

Luckily, I passed that phase of my life with only a few scars. But I can't help thinking that if someone had taught me how to drink responsibly, I could have been spared some the worse moments from that time.

So, yeah, I say we adopt a new model. Booze is a great thing. As Frank Kelly Rich of Modern Drunkard Magazine put it, "Where there's hooch there's hope." I agree with him. Booze is soothing. It's a fine social lubricant. It can even have certain health benefits. But it's important that we teach the next generation how to drink responsibly.

I know, I know... This a fine editorial from someone who is an admitted drunkard. But for a drunkard, I'd say I'm doing pretty well. And there's a line between being a drunkard and being a complete sot who can't get his shit together to save his life. If we give kids an education about booze, I believe they are more likely to find that line and their place relative to it. I'd also suggest that they'd be less likely to drown in their own vomit.

I don't care if the age is rolled back to 18 or even 16. It's not going to mean shit unless there's someone there to act as a guide.