There is tradition dating back a couple of centuries in American politics that an outgoing Head of Government grants clemency to, or pardons "worthy" convicted felons. For instance, it was just shy of 2 years ago that the relationship between the former President, George W. Bush; and his White House partner, V.P. Dick Cheney; iced-up after the President refused to pardon "Scooter" Libby (Cheney's assistant) who'd been convicted of lying to a Grand Jury.
Exiting Florida Governor, Charlie Crist, is causing quite a stir of emotions in his home state with a proposal to grant a "posthumous pardon" to Jim Morrison, who fronted the iconic 1960's rock band: "The Doors". Lest I digress - Mr. Crist, is the Republican Governor who followed Jeb Bush in the Florida Legislature. He turned "independent" last summer and ran for the U.S. Senate earlier this month, and was defeated.
Those of my generation and enthusiasts of Rock n' Roll history will recall the Gladiator like Miami confrontation following a March 1, 1969 "Doors" concert, which ultimately pitted fans of the Sixties counter-culture against those of the "Mainstream" then spear-headed by Miami born orange juice pitch-woman - Anita Bryant.
History lesson you query? - No question that the concert was a ruckus from the git' go! (That's about all anyone has ever agreed on) It was alleged that an intoxicated Jim Morrison..."stumbled through 'Light My Fire' and 'Break On Through', taunted the crowd and threatened to expose himself before fans mobbed the stage." The melee was subsequently investigated by a Miami Crime Commission and six arrest warrants were issued against Morrison for "lewd and lascivious behavior (sic)." A report in the Miami Herald newspaper having claimed that the rock icon..."appeared to simulate masturbation during his performance."
In its wake, three weeks later, songstress Anita Bryant, Comedian Jackie Gleason and "boy band" (1950's version) "The Lettermen" staged a "Rally For Decency" attended by an estimated 30,000 high-schoolers and their parents. In a letter to the rally, President Richard Nixon, told organizers they were showing..."admirable initiative."
A year later, Jim Morrison was convicted on two misdemeanor (sic) charges: Profanity and Indecent Exposure. He was fined $500 and sentenced to 6 months in jail. Morrison was appealing both convictions when he died in Paris at aged 27 on July 3, 1971.
Well passions run deep, and they're threatening to erupt once more down in the (very) Deep-South. Governor Crist has confirmed to no less than the "New York Times" that he..."will submit Morrison's name to a state clemency board next month." Though it's viewed by many as the culmination of a four-decades long battle. Others see it differently: A stoking of the socially polarizing forces which continue to afflict Americans.
At stake (it seems) is the underlying belief that not only were the charges against Morrison "trumped-up," but that they were used to discredit the emerging counter- culture which ultimately led to the subsequent turbulent times of the War in Viet-Nam, the racial tensions and riots, and beyond. Times from which the United States have hardly begun the emerge. It seems that as a parting gesture Governor Crist is choosing to align himself with that interpretation.