Friday, July 30, 2010

The Pardoning of Billy the Kid?

It has been 129 years since Billy the Kid met his end at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett near Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Surprisingly however the validity of Pat Garrett's account is being brought into question today. Questions are being raised as to whether Garrett even killed Billy the Kid or another individual and simply tried capitalized on his disappearance. Some people believe that Billy the Kid moved to Texas and went by the name "Brushy Bill" Roberts and died at age 90 in 1950 of a heart attack. Garrett on the other hand, along with a friend, authored a book on the life of Billy the Kid which built up the legend of this now notorious gunslinger. Since these questions have arisen, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico is actually having historians look into the claims of Garrett and find out what it would mean to pardon Billy the Kid for his crimes. This all started when Richardson backed a notion in 2003 when the Sheriff then, Tom Sullivan, wanted to reopen the investigation on the death of Billy the Kid. Not surprisingly Garrett's descendants are angry over the notion because pardoning him would destroy the legacy and heroism of Sheriff Garrett. Their argument is that whether or not it was Billy the Kid he was a killer including many of them law enforcement officers and if he were loose today he would of course be locked up for life.

First it is difficult for me to understand why government officials are taking their time to look into the life of a criminal from the nineteenth century with probably more important things to do. Secondly I would say pardoning Billy the Kid could potentially destroy the legend that has been built up around him. The reason this is such a big discussion in New Mexico is because of the popularity that has been capitalized upon his life and death. I would argue that by pardoning the outlaw you will destroy that legend and possibly lose tourism dollars that could have been gained by people visit his grave site and locations in which he is famous for being.

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