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No Pardon for Billy
December 31, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has declined to pardon William H. Bonney, aka Kid Antrim, aka Henry McCarty, but best known as Billy the Kid.

Probably born in New York City, the Kid ended up in New Mexico, where he became involved in the Lincoln County War, disputing the question of who would control the dry goods trade on the New Mexican frontier. He was alleged to have killed twenty-one men in his few years as an outlaw; the true number is probably closer to four. He certainly did participate in the shooting from ambush of Sheriff William Brady, in the streets of Lincoln in 1878; he was convicted of this killing and sentenced to hang. In escaping from the city jail, the Kid killed two deputies, James Bell and Robert Ollinger. A few months later, he was tracked down and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. He was twenty-one years old. In the hundred-and-thirty years since his death, the Kid has assumed the status of legend, appearing in too many films to list, a number of songs, a ballet, and at least one avant-garde verse novel. On Friday, outgoing Governor Bill Richardson announced that he would not issue a requested pardon, allegedly promised to Billy by Richardson's predecessor Lew Wallace over a century ago.
posted by steambadger (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It would be nice if our elected officials paid as much attention to justice in the cases of the living as they do to dead murderers and rock stars.
posted by ghharr at 8:17 AM on December 31, 2010 [19 favorites]


Why in the heck did he make such a big production out of the process of deciding if he was going to decline the pardon?
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Why in the heck did he make such a big production

Att*nti*n wh*re?
posted by jfuller at 8:29 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah, good point. Duh on me.
posted by blucevalo at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2010


Tough on crime!
posted by fuq at 8:31 AM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was remiss in not posting a link to the story of Brushy Bill Roberts.
posted by steambadger at 8:36 AM on December 31, 2010


He also declined to pardon Emilio Estevez for Young Gun.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Political process as entertainment, complete with a website. Bill Richardson has manged to turn politics into the "circus" in "bread and".
posted by orthogonality at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


He also declined to pardon Emilio Estevez for Young Gun.

Too bad that wasn't also posthumous.
posted by fatbird at 8:47 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have been a bit disappointed if he had been pardoned. The man is dead and long gone; all is left is the legend & Emilio Estevez films. Let us at least let him keep his outlaw status.
posted by Windigo at 8:47 AM on December 31, 2010


I hear The Kid is very pissed about this. Been staring at a wall all day long - that's a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad sign, brother, a real baaaaaad sign. Saddlin' up at sunrise, says he's headin' west.......or north. I didn't quite catch that bit because his lower jawbone fell off at that point. Anyhow - I'd get outta town if I were you Gov......fast.
posted by MajorDundee at 8:51 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


He certainly did participate in the shooting from ambush of Sheriff William Brady...

I see. So this is just the Democrats criminalizing politics again.
posted by PlusDistance at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2010


They do things the law way in New Mexico.
posted by Tashtego at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2010


lord, take this pen from me
i can't pardon any more
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Some of them say that The Kid was a coward, (which is a cowardly lie), and anybody, with any nerve, could have arrested him without trouble, thus obviating the necessity of killing him .... These blowers are unworthy of notice. Most of them were vagabonds who had 'slopped' over from one faction to the other during the war, regulating their maneuvers according to the prospect of danger or safety, always keeping in view their chances to steal a sore-back pony or speckled calf, and aspiring to the appellation of stock-owners. There is not one of these brave mouth-fighters that would have dared to give voice to such lying bravado whilst The Kid lived, though he were chained in a cell; not one of them that, were he on their track, would not have set the prairie on fire to get out of his reach, and, in their fright, extinguished it again as they ran, leaving a wet trail behind." -- Pat Garrett, The Authentic Life of Billy, The Kid, the Noted Desperado of the Southwest, Whose Deeds of Daring and Blood Made His name a Terror in New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico [1882]
posted by blucevalo at 9:27 AM on December 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


'Mouth-fighters,' I love that. We should try to bring it back.
posted by box at 9:30 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


i agree. {wham]
posted by clavdivs at 9:39 AM on December 31, 2010


Why in the heck did he make such a big production out of the process of deciding if he was going to decline the pardon?

Publicity and tourism, as he himself admits. Think about it -- if he actually issued the pardon, that itself would be worth a single headline and then the story would end. But if he declines to issue the pardon, they can keep milking the story into perpetuity. Every few years or so (or at least with every new governor) there'll be another petition and a few more headlines.
posted by Gator at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


For anyone traveling through the Southwest, Lincoln County is just astoundingly beautiful country and you should make a point of driving through. It's canyons and streams and wonderful skies in every direction. The people are friendly, and there are plenty of horses and cows. If you're interested in seeing places associated with Billy the Kid, a night at the Wortley Hotel is a good place to start. It's the beginning of his famous last ride, and the breakfast and dinner served there are heavenly.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


He should have got the pardon in reward for his excellent work time travelling back to medieval England to rescue those two babes, I mean princesses.
posted by mannequito at 10:00 AM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Seconding stoneweaver's comment, Lincoln County is some of the most beautiful country on the continent.
posted by blucevalo at 10:21 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid-SamFanatic Restoration

It plays loose with the facts. The actors are way too old for the people they're playing. It moves about as fast as a dial-up modem.

Crack some Tequila, light up a cigar, get lost.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The last thing an elected official wants is to be perceived as soft on 19th-century crime.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:35 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Many of us as far East as New England have had bumper stickers on cars saying
PARDON BILLY THE KID
WE KID YOU NOT
posted by Postroad at 11:27 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


New England. That's near Long Island, isn't it? Sure you're not thinking about Billy Joel.
posted by philip-random at 11:35 AM on December 31, 2010


Meanwhile, how many kids are rotting in N.M. prisons for non-violent drug offenses? What a fucking clown.
posted by Optamystic at 11:36 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


After much consideration and time wasted where I could have been doing something productive, I've decided not to do something that would have little impact on the world or do anybody any good. I'm telling you all this so you'll realize how important I am and what pains I have to go through to be this important. Did I mention I'm important?
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:46 AM on December 31, 2010


I'm not Bill's biggest fan, which makes me feel weird about what I'm about to type.

You all do know that this was all done by some low level intern, right? I mean, the governor did not actually sit around thinking about this, making a website and press releases. This is all from the tourism department. He probably had all of five minutes of actual involvement with this. There are plenty of things to criticize about him (I have a mighty long list), but this is probably not one of those things.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2010


Political process as entertainment, complete with a website. Bill Richardson has manged to turn politics into the "circus" in "bread and".

New Mexico -- a state which runs primarily on cattle, aging hippies, weird military science, and hot air balloons -- is not particularly known for its oh-so-serious politics.

C'mon, we have a State Question, and it's "red or green". The bizcochito is our State Cookie. Our commuter train (which Richardson got for us, in an act which was more like the bread in "and circus", thank you very much) looks like a roadrunner, and is called -- I kid you not -- the Railrunner. For better or worse, we love this silly shit... and since tourism is one of the primary drivers of our economy, press-release stunts like this are a cheap and probably effective way to secure funds for the state.

Which is, last I checked, one of the duties of the Governor.
posted by vorfeed at 12:06 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


ABC News sent out a breaking news alert on this.
posted by smackfu at 12:06 PM on December 31, 2010


I'm not sure why people make so many jokes about "Young Guns." I guess a brat-pack Western seems like a bad idea on paper. But it works. It's a damn good movie, a great story told with a sly sense of humor. It's also very historically accurate, on the big points anyway. And Estevez's performance is outstanding.

Ok, so Young Guns II kinda sucks, especially Emilio's old man voice as Brushy Bill.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:14 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seeing as how we're there already, a history question about New Mexico:

Why was it only admitted as the 47th state in 1912 when all the territory was officially part of the USA as of 1853? Was it a case of too much wild west (ie: clean up all the misfits, loony tunes and squalid criminals and then we'll talk about letting y'all join the club)?
posted by philip-random at 12:24 PM on December 31, 2010


C'mon, we have a State Question, and it's "red or green".

And it's an excellent question, one which will require years of extensive research before I can provide a definitive answer.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Vernor Vinge (of coining the term "technological singularity" fame) has a short story where the Republic of New Mexico is poised to invade the peace loving (sorta) libertarian supermegahappy anarcho-capitalist land of Kansas. In the end the New Mexico Republic goes home, licks its wounds and sets up shop as a sort of tourist trap - See a real live government doing government things! Vote! Pay taxes!

Personally, I liked it better when science fiction authors predicted technological developments with futuristic MacGuffins rather than sociological trends with throw-away short story plots.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:20 PM on December 31, 2010


Why was it only admitted as the 47th state in 1912 when all the territory was officially part of the USA as of 1853? Was it a case of too much wild west (ie: clean up all the misfits, loony tunes and squalid criminals and then we'll talk about letting y'all join the club)?

Frankly, it was a case of "too many Hispanics and Indians". The state wasn't perceived as being "American" enough for the people in Washington, nor as being worth much until mining, oil, and the railroads took off during the 1880s and 90s.

And it's an excellent question, one which will require years of extensive research before I can provide a definitive answer.

There isn't one. Red or green depends on a delicate waltz between personal taste, the restaurant and/or cook, and the dish in question, plus a good dash of whim... and there's always "Christmas", for those moments when you just have to have both!
posted by vorfeed at 1:36 PM on December 31, 2010


Think about it.

This supposedly "notorious" outlaw, originally purported to have killed 21 people, now scholars put the number conservatively at "8 or 9." Yet, the government has never been able to produce one shred of evidence, video or photographic, conclusively linking Billy the Kid to any of his supposed "crimes." Of course they shot him, they did want to have to put him on trial and risk the truth coming out. It all just seems a little too convenient, like he was an easy scapegoat.

I'm not saying there was a vast government conspiracy, rising to the level of the governor, (possibly to Obama himself); I'm just saying there are some troubling questions and the American people deserve answers.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

Visit www.billythekidtruth.org
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:46 PM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Visit www.billythekidtruth.org

Oh, I was so hoping there really was such a website.
posted by steambadger at 1:52 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Visit www.billythekidtruth.org

Oh, I was so hoping there really was such a websit
e

My group is working on it. I've uncovered some pretty disturbing facts in the course of my research. For example, if you take the letters in Billy the Kid's real name "Henry McCarty" and add 7 letters and take away 14 (Billy the Kid was murdered on 7/14) you get "David Koresh", another supposedly guilty outlaw of the American southwest who was slain by law enforcement. Now, I'm really *not* saying that Billy the Kid was present when the CIA stormed Ruby Ridge, I'm just saying that without Bill Richardson's pardon, we may never know for sure.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:12 PM on December 31, 2010


Slarty, history is full of neat stuff like that. For instance, most people believe that the 1976 monster hit "Convoy" was recorded by Jack McCall, who assassinated James Butler Hickok in Nutal & Mann's #10 Saloon in 1876. In fact, the artist was an advertising executive named William Dale Fries -- who was born more than fifty years after McCall died!
posted by steambadger at 2:44 PM on December 31, 2010


Governor Bill Richardson is just another DICK, that is common with Governors that are not facing real problems like the more important states, calif., new york, etc. Now is the time to wish a "Happy New Year" to all that read this humble post.
posted by tustinrick at 3:06 PM on December 31, 2010


Albuquerque -- what a great name! What a great song!
posted by philip-random at 4:01 PM on December 31, 2010


We're pretty happy not being an important state, honestly. You keep your muli-billion dollar deficits and we'll wrangle with The Kid every couple years. Deal?
posted by stoneweaver at 4:10 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Dear Governor Axtell. I've heard that you will give 200 dollars for my head. Perhaps we should meet and talk. I am at the Juarez village at the border. Send 3 men, and instruct them not to shoot, as I am unarmed. In short, Sir; I surrender. Your obedient servant William H. Bonney. PS: I changed my mind. Kiss my ass."
posted by Senator at 5:25 PM on December 31, 2010


I grew up in Ruidoso. Used to go to Lincoln County Days every summer. Dammit, vorfeed, now you've got me craving some rellenos. I live in northern CA and Mexican food out here is either fish tacos or Del Taco. :0(
posted by slightly ridiculous at 4:29 PM on January 1, 2011


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