According to the International Herald Tribune, Florida Governor Charlie Crist said today that he is "seriously thinking" of granting a posthumous pardon to Doors singer Jim Morrison. (This is a major step forward since my report on this last week.) Morrison was convicted in 1970 of indecent exposure and profanity stemming from a concert in Miami in 1969. Morrison’s appeal was still pending when he died, at the age of 27.
"That’s really a kid," said the governor, "and obviously he was having some challenges." In particular, he was having some challenges keeping his pants on, but at the age of 27, who didn’t? More importantly, Crist continued, "[t]here’s some dispute about how solid the case was." That’s the point that Kerry Humpherys, who publishes Doors Collectors Magazine, and Dave Diamond, who has written for DCM, have been making for years. As I reported last week, Diamond wrote a letter to Governor Crist last month (the most recent of several such letters), in which he pointed out the lack of evidence that Morrison had actually exposed himself, and that New York Governor George Pataki similarly pardoned Lenny Bruce (also posthumously) for an obscenity charge.
Governor Crist expressed admiration for Morrison’s work. "I can remember when I was 10 years old listening to the song, ‘Come On Baby Light My Fire’ [i.e., ‘Light My Fire’]. Classic. Classic. And to have that much talent and to have it sucked out [by drugs], even if there was some self-involvement . . . that’s very sad and very tragic." He seemed sincerely sympathetic to the cause. "Trying to clear his name and then he dies . . . . If you have a heart pounding in your chest, that has to tug at you a little bit. It should."
"Lowering the Bar" readers, virtually all of whom do have hearts pounding in their chests — and some of whom really should have that looked at — also have been generally sympathetic. Almost eighty percent of readers are currently supporting the Morrison pardon. Morrison’s father, a retired admiral, is reportedly very happy at the prospect of a pardon, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek (who, the IHT reported, "never saw Morrison expose himself") was said to be "elated." "Wouldn’t it be great," he said, "if Florida could finally say, ‘Hey, native son, your name is cleared. We recognize you as a young American poet.’"
Governor Crist said that his legal team was reviewing the case and considering procedure, but he did not say how long the review might take.