Why Not Pardon All the Nice Guys?

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

Anyone who has watched Dateline: To Catch A Predator has had the same queasy feeling when a seemingly nice old guy gets caught. Remember the guy who asked the police to call his wife because he has a heart condition and she might worry? He was such a cute old grandpa, wasn't he? Until you remind yourself that he was trying to have sex with a 12 year old?! But, even I have to admit I did feel kinda sorry for the sick old guy. And I'm not alone. Because, as a society, I think we're basically good, we're forgiving, and we can't bear to believe that the guy with a heart condition is really the criminal that he is.

I'm not saying Scotter Libby is a child molester. I'm not saying he's a monster and I'm not saying he's a Nazi (I'm sure there were some "nice" Nazis, too, who were also following orders). But I'm also not saying he isn't a Nazi or a child molester. How the hell would I know what he is? Because he was "nice" in court? A defendant's behavior in a courtroom is hardly a measure of his authentic character. The only thing I do know is that eleven reasonable people found him guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice after weighing all the evidence. This is the way the system works. He was on trial for something he was accused of, they found him guilty. And I don't really care if he's a nice guy. I care that he lied to a grand jury and a federal prosecutor during the course of a national security investigation.

If we pardoned every nice guy who did the wrong thing, or every nice guy who was only following orders, or every nice guy who happens to be guilty of one crime but not quite the crime that was being investigated - then why have laws to begin with? Let's just replace all the judges in our courts with the ones on American Idol. "Scooter, you were a little pitchy in spots, but you've got that 'yo!' factor - you're going to Hollywood, dawg!"