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Crist May Pardon Jim Morrison

His career seemingly over after being trounced in an independent bid for the Senate, Florida Governor Charlie Crist is turning his attention to the pressing matter of three-decade-old conviction of a long dead pop singer.

In his last two months in office, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a December surprise: A posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, for indecent exposure charges after an infamous 1969 Miami concert. In a phone interview with The Hill, Crist said “stay tuned” regarding the idea of a posthumous pardon for the singer who died in Paris in 1971.

[...]

Morrison, a native of Melbourne, Fla., was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity after a March 1, 1969, concert in Miami in which he allegedly exposed himself and acted lewdly. He had seen a provocative stage play the night before in Los Angeles, and was known to have drank steadily that day en route to Florida. Other band members have stated in interviews over the years that Morrison was clearly drunk at the concert, as obvious from sound recordings which showed he also tried to provoke the audience at various times.

Ironically, Morrison was cleared of drunkenness charges in the ensuing trial, as well as a felony charge for lewd and lascivious behavior, but convicted of exposure and profanity. Morrison and his lawyers had hoped to turn the trial into a First Amendment battle, and he claimed in several later interviews that the trial was a sham. Morrison’s death in 1971 ended the case without him ever serving any prison time.

[...]

Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge. “We would have to look into all of that,” Crist said.

Morrison was a drunken lout who died young from, in all likelihood, a heroin overdose. He’s nonetheless properly regarded as an accomplished songwriter and one of the great front men in rock history. Given how widely and simultaneously held these views are held, it seems absurd to waste much time pretend the former isn’t true.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    I’m glad Christie is diligently attending to urgent matters of the state :)

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  2. largebill says:

    Crist’s decision to drop from the GOP and continue in the campaign has to be one of the worst decisions of this election cycle. He ended any future career with that one act. In all the election reviews all the BS talk is about the Tea Party costing the GOP the senate. Reality is the TP candidates who lost primaries accepted the loss and supported the nominee in the general. The other aspect missing from that discussion is it ignores the goals of the tea party movement. The goal is not to get as many Republicans elected as possible to continue the DC game of spending as much as possible. No, goal is to fundamentally change DC and the spending.

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  3. Blayneb says:

    All that matters is, DID Jim Morrison expose himself or not? All the rest is superfluous – all the political BS and claims that he was a drunken lout, or an accomplished songwriter and one of the great front men in rock history, do not matter. Is their any real proof he exposed himself? No pictures, no witnesses – but a political climate at the time that simply looked to vilify him got him convicted, not facts. Since no pictures exist, no real proof, he should be pardoned – period.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Blayneb: Since when have we required photographic evidence of crimes to convict? And Morrison was in fact convicted. Your standard is that, 30 years after a conviction, pardons should be issued unless there’s photographic evidence? Because, at this point in the game, what other evidence would there be?

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  5. Blayneb says:

    If I recall there was no photographic proof or anyone who testified that they actually saw him expose himself. It was a witch-hunt pure and simple. And by today’s standards, this would not even have made the newspaper. And I believe pardons are issued today even when in some circumstances we know the person is guilty, because times have changed and so have standards and public opinion. Janet Jackson exposed her breast on TV and she got publicity for it, nothing more!

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