New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is considering pardoning Billy the Kid because one of the governor’s predecessor’s may have promised Billy a pardon and then reneged. He’s soliciting input from around the world. Aside from the fact that it’s clearly a publicity bonanza, there is a deeper question of integrity we need to consider.
The two underlying questions are these: Can someone right a wrong that was done in the past? Clearly, the answer is yes. When someone falsely convicted and imprisoned is freed, we all rejoice and admire the people who helped to right the wrong. But what if promising the pardon in the first place was wrong? If Charles Manson was offered a pardon today to testify, and then not given that pardon, would we be advocating for his freedom? No, because it would have been wrong in the first place to have offered the pardon, and Manson is a threat to society. So as we consider a pardon for Billy the Kid, here’s my viewpoint: Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Would you pardon Billy the Kid?