The current governor of Florida is somewhat considering pardoning the late musician and original front man for the Doors, Jim Morrison for the several crimes that he allegedly committed during a concert in Miami. And there’s recently been a ton of media attention on whether Morrison should be pardoned or not.
I personally think it is a pretty moot point. Exonerating dead guys doesn’t turn an injustice into a justice, even if the dead guy was charged, convicted, and executed for a much bigger crime. It is just a way for that particular state to say “Boy our judicial and criminal system was so flawed and corrupt back then that we’d easily and readily do an unjust thing to an innocent man, but heck it ain’t like that now, and we’ve learned from our mistakes…”
And Jim Morrison? His only claim to fame in the modern world is that everyone thinks he was a guy that drank too much, did way too many drugs each day, and had more sex with underage girls than Ali Baba and his 72 vestal virgin brides. And that his death was the truest poetic justice for a pathetic slime ball that deserved much worse.
I don’t know, maybe people have access to information that I don’t have, but last time I checked there were no documented evidence (photos) that he exposed himself at that concert, and in fact wasn’t even charged with a crime until several days later after a scathing review in the Miami Herald which included this line “Morrison appeared to masturbate in full view of his audience.” And there can be little doubt that Morrison suggested to the audience that he was possibly exposing himself. And people generally see what they want and more importantly are told that they see, and if there was ever anyone that understood that it would have probably have been Morrison. But there was a resulting media firestorm and obviously to this day more people believe the lie than the truth, probably because the truth is always easier to accept.
The court case was a climatic confrontation between the youth of the sixties “Hippie” Generation and the older established status quo. And that’s pretty much the way the trial went. And the older established status quo never let anyone forget at that trial that they were the ones with very firm control of the judicial system at the time. Especially in Florida. Youngest juror allowed was 42, and any potential juror that showed the slightest bit of sympathy for the younger generation was quickly dismissed by the prosecution. Even news footage of Morrison speaking and testifying at the trial were muted out and replaced by voiced over comments from newsmen and reporters. And not surprisingly by the time the defense started it’s rebuttal, the media was all but absent.
No one cared about what happened to Morrison, he was a loud mouthed braggart that seemed determined to offend. And so he was a good sacrificial lamb to prove to the youth movement at the time, that those that didn’t fall into line with everyone else would be summarily punished for their independence and foolish notion that freedom was anything but a word. More than anything else the trial was just a sign that the Youth Movement of the 60’s had actually accomplished very little, besides making it pretty obvious who the dissenting radicals were.
So he was convicted of two misdemeanors, open profanity and indecent exposure. And whatever and whoever he was, him doing time was out of the question, so he ran and exiled himself. Exiled himself away from a lot of people who could have been there to keep an eye on him if he was in America, but he wasn’t and after a few months he died…
The main thing that I lament is the potential that was lost. His musical career only lasted approximately five years. He could have been a great musician, poet, or even filmmaker. And as a writer I’d be hard pressed to not give at least minimum kudos to a man intelligent enough to understand the importance of Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Years before a certain George Lucas used Campbell’s work almost verbatim in a little pet project of his called “Star Wars”.
Pardoning him although being a nice gesture, is a completely irrelevant act at this point. That Crystal ship sailed a very long time ago. The damage had already been done, and set in stone that only got more solid when Oliver Stone repeated the same exact criticism that the establishment at that trial had, that Morrison just wasn’t a man worth worrying about.
No reason decades later for a Governor of Florida to make a point to try ceremoniously undo a possibly wrongful prosecution that he wasn’t even involved in. And not like people aren’t still getting wrongfully prosecuted in Florida every day. It is just that Morrison’s fan base is large enough presently to get some politicians into a hand-washing guilt-removing mood.