The Doors: Forget pardon, Florida should apologize for Jim Morrison arrest
The surviving members of The Doors issued a statement decrying Gov. Charlie Crist and the Clemency Board's decision to pardon Jim Morrison for a raucous 1969 concert in Miami. A pardon wasn't required, the Doors said.
In August, Jim Morrison went on trial in Miami. He was acquitted on all but two misdemeanor charges and sentenced to six months’ hard labor in Raiford Penitentiary (SPT note: actually, it was six months hard labor at Dade County jail). He was appealing this conviction when he died in Paris on July 3, 1971. Four decades after the fact, with Jim an icon for multiple generations – and those who railed against him now a laughingstock – Florida has seen fit to issue a pardon.
We don't feel Jim needs to be pardoned for anything.
His performance in Miami that night was certainly provocative, and entirely in the insurrectionary spirit of The Doors' music and message. The charges against him were largely an opportunity for grandstanding by ambitious politicians – not to mention an affront to free speech and a massive waste of time and taxpayer dollars. As Ann Woolner of the Albany Times-Union wrote recently, “Morrison's case bore all the signs of a political prosecution, a rebuke from the cultural right to punish a symbol of Dionysian rebellion.”
If the State of Florida and the City of Miami want to make amends for the travesty of Jim Morrison's arrest and prosecution forty years after the fact, an apology would be more appropriate – and expunging the whole sorry matter from the record. And how about a promise to stop letting culture-war hysteria trump our First Amendment rights? Freedom of Speech must be held sacred, especially in these reactionary times.