Never thought County Grind would sound so much like Alex P. Keaton in these pages, but here's a rail against the "counterculture" supporters in the New York Times' latest piece discussing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's support of pardoning Jim Morrison. Writer David Itzkoff unravels the issue beyond its basic talking points that received a bevy of press Wednesday and, with the help of surviving Doors member Ray Manzarek, discusses what's really at stake in the minds of many who wish to wipe away a four-decade-old indecent-exposure charge handed down in Miami.
From the Times interview with Manzarek:
"It was the battle of the conservatives versus the liberals," he said, "the people who could tolerate a theatrical performance and the people who wanted decency and purity above all things."
He added that the Doors and the fateful Miami concert "were not the beginning of the culture war, but that era was the beginning of the culture war: the straight versus the hip, the lovers versus the killers."
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In the ensuing decades, the cultural lines between any of these fast-bound groups in 1969 have withered away. So-called hip signifiers are strictly consumer goods today, and there are dozens of shades of gray when it comes to what constitutes a life worth saving or taking.
As was already put plainly as the top reason Jim Morrison doesn't warrant a pardon, he's dead. Did Jim Morrison deserve an appeal back in 1971? Absolutely. Is there an argument to suggest his own life decisions did him a greater injustice than the courts? Natch.
If this remnant of the counterculture movement were truly about sustaining basic human rights -- and not an idol-obsessed group of fanatics hanging onto a misplaced anti-authority grudge -- so many Floridians (and victims of unfair legal dealings around the country) whose lives currently hang in the balance should be the focus. Where are Antonio Balta, Jose Torres, and other youth offenders in Florida on the list of clemency considerations?
There are plenty of us who can tolerate a theatrical performance, but letting celebrity pull a disproportionate amount of attention -- as it clearly has in this case -- is counter to any life-affirming culture we'd like to be a part of.