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Author Topic: Petition to pardon Alan Turing  (Read 718 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« on: August 31, 2009, 02:26:32 PM »

I'm sure many people here are familiar with the man - but if not...

Alan Turing is one of many people whose work has, eventually, enabled you to read the words on this screen. He created a theoretical construct that proved various limits about the nature of solvable algorithms, and this construct, in its most basic form, became the Turing machine - a simplistic, if impractical, expression of the computer and the logical means by which it could be programmed and communicated with. A slightly more complicated - and limited, due to the lack of infinite resources to use - version of the Turing machine functions as a model for most modern computer languages.

Turing was also instrumental in cracking German codes during World War II. Without his work, Britain would not have fared so well leading up to America's entry in the war.

After the War, he provided a great deal of insight into the beginnings of artificial intelligence research.

Given little thanks for his efforts, Turing was tried and convicted in 1952 for 'gross indecency' - being a homosexual, and forced into hormone treatment. This led him to a major depression and, in 1954, he committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple.

I've been hearing others comment that "If one person deserves an apology, others do." regarding the petition I linked above.

That misses the entire point. No matter who - or where - you are, Alan Turing changed your world for the better.

He deserves your memory.

Offline Celestial Goblin

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2009, 02:57:50 PM »
Righteous idea.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2009, 05:44:59 PM »
Too bad only British citizens can sign.  :(

Offline The Overlord

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2009, 06:32:26 PM »
Too bad only British citizens can sign.  :(

I know, because I was going to sign until I saw that part.

It's a double-edged sword really. Just like the Vatican apologizing 400 years after the fact for persecuting Galileo, the deed is done. Because of society's or authority's tiny and pathetic collective mindset, their lives were made hell. It can absolutely never be forgiven.

On the other hand, having an official government apology for Turing is tantamount to saying 'we fucked up', which is hard thing for government to 'fess up to, no matter what country it runs.

Good find however, this man deserves our recognition.

Offline VekseidTopic starter

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2009, 10:13:07 PM »
That was fast

Thursday 10 September 2009
Treatment of Alan Turing was “appalling” - PM

Alan Turing, a mathematician most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes, was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration.

Gordon Brown’s statement came in response to a petition posted on the Number 10 website which has received thousands of signatures in recent months.
Read the statement

2009 has been a year of deep reflection - a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Gordon Brown

Offline PaleEnchantress

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2009, 10:56:29 PM »
I read about this days ago and am thrilled to hear the apology was issued. A rather cold comfort over 50 years after the fact, but Brown's statement is well put together and seems pretty genuine rather then just bureaucratic BS.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2009, 06:10:13 PM »
... I never though Gordon Brown could do something to make me like him. I still think he's a spineless weasel for creeping into power like he did, but at least he did one thing right in his period of dithering.

Offline Kip

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2009, 07:24:35 AM »
Thanks for sharing the statement Veks.

I'm quite impressed by the sentiments within and the fact the topic wasn't dodged.

Offline Transgirlenstein

Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 05:34:47 PM »
I was very pleased when I got this email after signing the petition.  I was also confused at first why I had an email from Gordon Brown in my inbox.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Petition to pardon Alan Turing
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2009, 06:57:44 PM »
He wants to pledge himself to you, but alas it is a tragic love that cannot be :)