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The Old West of Billy the Kid is still with us. And so is Hollywood’s Old West.
The governor has been entertaining the idea of a pardon for the Kid since 2003, and the Legislature considered a pardon before that. The descendents of Sheriff Pat Garrett, who killed the kid in 1881, have made their opposition clear.
In 2001, historian Bob Boze Bell and I took opposing positions on the question in side-by-side newspaper columns. Bell made a case for forgiveness; I argued that Billy was a rustler, horse thief and back shooter, not a misunderstood youth.
But, bless him, he’s been good for tourism.
As it happens, I just watched “Chisum,” starring John Wayne as the legendary New Mexico cattleman and partisan in the Lincoln County War. It’s one of many movies based on this colorful episode in the state’s history. Watch any of them and you start to see why the Kid doesn’t fade away.
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