James Douglas Morrison was a convicted felon who today was pardoned for his crime.
The Florida Clemency Board, chaired by Governor Charlie Crist, unanimously voted to grant a pardon but made it clear that they were neither seeking to re-examine the case, nor question the original verdict. The pardon was an acknowledgement of Morrison being a “son of Florida” whose body of work had stood the test of 40 years and continued to grow in stature. Members of the Board described Morrison as a drunk and a drug user.
Charlie Crist in his summing up, prior to announcing the pardon, made it clear that he was aware that the eyes of the world were watching but hoped it would reflect well on Florida. I think it did. Watching the live video feed, I was touched by the way that real people who had committed crimes were supported and decried by individuals equally vehement that their stance was just and ‘right’.
Most of the people, who stood before the board, spoke from the heart. One man applying for a pardon, really just wanted to be able to hunt again. He was given the right to get a firearms license but his pardon was turned down. Despite that, the governor praised much of his work and urged him to re-apply.
There were tales of restitution being made, of lives being changed; communities gathering round in support and people standing up to be counted. It was real life. In many ways it was during the Morrison consideration that it fell apart. An ex-policeman who had no involvement, but knew and respected the officer who had arrested Jim was there to speak against the pardon. It was a sadly farcical interval in a day that had seen moments of deep contrition but always real dignity from those who had come to make their case.
So, Morrison has been pardoned. Now what? Will it sell more records? I doubt it. Will it change anything? I doubt that too.
It did make me wonder what if Jim were still alive. Would he have sought a pardon for himself? Would he have needed to? Surely Morrison would have been the first choice for any TV company to make a fly-on-the-wall reality series about. Forget “The Osbournes”. Imagine “Life With The Morrisons”. Jim and Pam, their kids and the grandparents!
Ozzy was famously invited to dinners at the White House with George Dubya. Jim would surely have managed golf with the governor and maybe that other old Hell-raiser, Alice Cooper. Or would it have been poetry tours and maybe a chair at some Ivy League university?
All the rock stars who’ve had their own series, Tommy Lee, Brett Michaels, Gene Simmons et al, were just pretenders to the crown of rampant, out of control, king of shock-rock. I will leave you with this parting thought: the fact that Jim’s dead surely can’t stop anyone making the series, can it?