If we were to make a list of the most famous New Mexicans of all time, regardless of how the rest of the list might play out, Billy the Kid would be the undisputed winner for the No. 1 spot.
There have been more books and movies centered around the Kid than just about any other figure in American history. We suspect this is the reason why itâ€™s been reported that Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for the Old West icon. There was a news story about the possible pardon in one of our recent editions and columnist Jay Miller has written about the issue in a number of his columns, including the one above this editorial.
Sheriff Pat Garrett fatally shot Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881. Some of Garrettâ€™s descendents are scheduled to meet with Richardson today to urge him to drop any thoughts of pardoning the Kid.
Weâ€™ll refrain from rehashing the details in Millerâ€™s column and simply encourage readers to take a look at it for additional details. However, we do want to weigh in on the issue and voice our opposition to a pardon.
Our objection is not centered around whether the Kid deserves a pardon or not, itâ€™s based on our belief that it is not the current governorâ€™s place to issue said pardon.
Billy the Kid died a long, long time ago and the legacy of his life should end there. A pardon now would in no way benefit the Kid. The only governor who had any legitimate business considering a pardon for Billy was Lew Wallace. He chose not to and that should have been the end of it.
Weâ€™re certain previous governors have contemplated issuing a pardon for the Kid. Thankfully theyâ€™ve had the decency to refrain from meddling with history for personal glory.
The only reason we can think of for a contemporary governor to issue a pardon is to ride on the coattails of New Mexicoâ€™s most famous resident.
The story of Billy the Kid is one of the most fascinating tales in the Land of Enchantment. Itâ€™s a shame that in recent years it has been blemished by people seeking to add their names to the story. Efforts to dig up the Kidâ€™s grave site a few years back raised controversy and achieved nothing except to garner attention for some individuals hoping to cash in on the Kidâ€™s fame.
If Gov. Richardson is actually thinking of pardoning the Kid, we hope he will quickly and publicly back away from the temptation to attach his name to our stateâ€™s most recognized historic figure. The Kid is already as famous as he will ever get. A pardon now would be nothing more than a tawdry publicity stunt.