The Golden BB

(“The Golden BB” is a concept I picked up from the military. It refers to that tiny little vulnerable part of an aircraft, that is hit by that one-in-a-million shot and brings down the aircraft. It’s also a wonderful metaphor.)

It’s amazing what tiny little things can lead to big stories. There aren’t many things that are smaller than a BB for a BB gun, but they ended up at the heart of two stories ouf of Massachusetts over the last week.

First up, there was absolute hysteria in South Boston when it was revealed that the Junior ROTC class had been conducting target practice. With BB guns. In a school. In a locked classroom.

Obviously, Something Must Be Done About This.

On the other hand, showing a surprising smidgen of common sense (and an unsurprising amount of political opportunism, Massachusetts’ governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, has said that he is seriously considering a pardon for a man denied one by Mitt Romney.

Romney has made a point of saying that while he was governor of the Bay State, he turned down every single request for a pardon, clemency, or commutation, shoring up his “tough on crime” credentials.

One of those Romney denied, saying he didn’t want to overturn a jury’s verdict, was Anthony Circosta.

Circosta is a decorated Iraq War veteran who served honorably, then came home to Massachusetts. He sought to become a police officer, but he was barred from the job by his criminal record.

His heinous offense? When he was 13, he had shot a friend in the arm with — yes — a BB gun.

Romney had a good idea. Pardons and commutations are a very potent power of a chief executive, and they should not be “handed out like lollipops,” as he described the last days of the Clinton administration. (An investment that paid off handsomely when Hillary ran for Senate, and some of those who’d either benefited or paid for argued for or supported the pardons repaid returned the favor with support for Hillary’s campaign.)

But justice should be tempered by mercy, and mitigating factors must be taken into account. Circosta won a Bronze Star in Iraq. He’s more than atoned for his dipshit move as a kid. He’s earned his pardon, and deserves a chance to at least be considered for a job with a police department. Romney should have granted him his pattern, and Patrick should do so.

Patrick should also do so without grandstanding, without using Circosta as a bludgeon to go after Romney. But if he does, Romney will have no grounds for complaint. He chose to make his absolute stand on pardons and commutations, and that meant that cases like Circosta’s were sacrificed on the altar of Romney’s political future.

The most important thing, though, is Mr. Circosta. He served our nation most honorably, and is asking for a very small thing in return — the chance to continue to serve us.

Let him. Let him stop being a political football, and let him just try to be a cop.

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