Sunday, December 28, 2008

SOUND OFF: PARDON MY PARDON

Roughly 89 percent of the readers who responded to an unscientific poll on my column's blog thought that it was unethical for a president to pardon someone whose illegal actions may have involved him or his administration.

The most thoughtful response comes from Sean O'Leary, a reader in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

"Pardons of all kinds can be just, compassionate and even necessary," he writes, "because they can take into account a wider range of factors than might be considered pertinent in a court of law. Just pardons increase accountability by making more known and taking more into consideration ... Granting a presidential pardon to a crony whose crimes are a matter of public record is less troubling than granting a pardon for the specific purpose of preventing the crimes underlying the pardon from being fully investigated and becoming a matter of public record ... Just pardons increase accountability. Unjust pardons reduce accountability."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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