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Alan Turing Apology Campaign Grows 653

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the he-only-invented-modern-computer-science dept.
chrb writes "Several British news sources have recently reported on the growing campaign that calls for an apology to Alan Turing for his persecution by the British government. The petition to the Prime Minister was started by John Graham-Cumming, who has also written to the Queen requesting a Knighthood for Turing, but admits that a pardon is 'unlikely,' saying, 'The most important thing to me is that people hear about Alan Turing and realize his incredible impact on the modern world, and how terrible the impact of prejudice was on him.'"
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Alan Turing Apology Campaign Grows

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  • just Turing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:06AM (#29259401) Homepage

    How about having the British apologize to everyone who was wronged by their hateful policies in the past?

    • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:16AM (#29259487)
      They'll agree, contingent on the Italian government apologizing to them for Roman treatment of the Britons.
    • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:16AM (#29259491)

      You mean, if you keep the parlament busy that way for the next few decades they at least won't have the time to pass any more idiotic privacy-eliminating laws?

    • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:18AM (#29259511) Journal

      Sure, why don't the British, French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese apologies for their empire-building past. The various European powers for their slave trade. The various African tribes who were already practicing slavery when the white men arrived and sold them slaves from other tribes should probably go on the list. The Mongols should probably apologise for their invasion of China too. And what about the descendants of people responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire? They definitely need to apologise!

      Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born. If you want someone to apologise to Turing (or, rather, to you about Turing, because he's dead and therefore doesn't care) then why not go after the people who still persecute homosexuals. Better yet, get them to apologise to people who are still alive for things that they've actually done.

      • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cigarra (652458) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:46AM (#29259781)
        Yeah, the hereditary guilt doesn't really make sense... on a personal level. But isn't there a legal principle of "continuity of the state" for which the (government of) England that harassed and prosecuted Alan Turing is the very same that still exists today?
        • Re:just Turing? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:15AM (#29260139)
          Prescription, invented during the Roman Empire, is supposed to stop never ending guilt, while the rule "an eye for an eye" would have left the world full of blind idiots.
      • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Carewolf (581105) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:58AM (#29259923) Homepage

        I know there have been apologies for slavery, but it just doesn't make any sense.

        As a former foreign minister of Denmark said on the issue: We do not apologize for things we haven't done, to people it wasn't done against.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I know there have been apologies for slavery, but it just doesn't make any sense. As a former foreign minister of Denmark said on the issue: We do not apologize for things we haven't done, to people it wasn't done against.

          Indeed I find it a little offensive. At the time Britain was involved in slavery, my ancestors were being somewhat oppressed by the system of land lords (and tenant farmers) that existed in England. They certainly didn't have the vote. And yet, apparently, I'm supposed to apologise on the grounds that more than two centuries ago, many of the people who were oppressing us also happened to be oppressing some other people.

      • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:04AM (#29259989)

        Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born.

        Not only before they were born, but the times it happened in, these things were very normal and standard. I am sure that our great-grand children will have plenty to apologize about for things we think are very, very normal. So here it goes: Sorry!

        Oh and all women should apologize to men for taking that apple.

        • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by k8to (9046) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:25AM (#29260265) Homepage

          I can see the point in saying guilt should't be hereditary, although the UK government is not a single person.

          However, claiming injecting people with "hormonal treatments" was normal is like claiming that waterboarding is normal now. They all knew what they were doing was wrong then, just like we all know what we are doing is wrong now. We just make a pretense that it isn't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ArsenneLupin (766289)

          Oh and all women should apologize to men for taking that apple.

          There were no women in his life. That's why the government gave him so much hate, and he eventually ate that apple.

      • Awful attitude (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@gmaMONETil.com minus painter> on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:16AM (#29260157) Homepage

        The problem with this attitude is that we don't acknowledge that something was done wrong. Sometimes an apology is all that is needed to mend ties to some wronged group, and then healing can begin. The Mongols and the roman empire are poor examples. No one has memory of the emotional impact of the Mongols and the Roman empire. But there is still plenty of emotions over the european impact over Africa, the middle east, and southeast asia. Hell, a lot of what's going on in those areas, mostly bad things, are a direct result of the actions that were taken by those imperial powers. And yet most governments go along like "Oh really we did something wrong? Well that wasn't my fault that was someone else. I'd never do that to you." Oh really, then why don't you just apologize and get on with life? What, no apology? Gee, I guess you don't think it was wrong huh?

        I like the idea that someone else posted that apologies should be given to the entire community, and not just to Alan Turing. Alan in this case is a good poster child.

        Western Countries still have plenty of people with lots of illogical hatred. I think that if Britain were to do this it would go a long way to further showing how backward the US is in it's own hatreds. If you tried this in the US there would actually be a huge political backlash. And an apology doesn't have to mean you are weak, an apology just has to mean you were too cruel in the past, and that the government by the people and for the people will try to do better to preserve your basic human rights.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

        Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born. If you want someone to apologise to Turing (or, rather, to you about Turing, because he's dead and therefore doesn't care) then why not go after the people who still persecute homosexuals. Better yet, get them to apologise to people who are still alive for things that they've actually done.

        You filthy islamophobe !

        (note, this is sarcastic, just intended to underscore the hypocrisy of people who demand apologies from those who saw their mistake and fixed it, like for example the English and Americans, and not demand anything from the people, like muslims for example, who still have not seen how despicable their behavior is, and still en-masse attack homosexuals, practice slavery, ... the works. The problem is, just about any religion except Christianity has always, for the whole of their histor

        • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dkaimal (645075) on Monday August 31, 2009 @10:14AM (#29261137)

          It is interesting that you cite Sharia for Muslim law, but do not cite your references for Hindu law. Practices in India today, do not neccessarily have anything to do with Hindu law. By all accounts Hinduism has been generally liberal with sexuality and open and accepting of various different practices including homosexuality.

          When Europeans arrived in India, they were shocked by Hinduism, which they termed idolatrous, and by the range of sexual practices, including same-sex relations, which they labeled licentious. British colonial rulers wrote modern homophobia into education, law and politics.

          The Wikipedia entry on Homosexuality in India [wikipedia.org] also does not refer to any of the conclusions you have made. Sure, it might sound kind of cool to make up your "facts", but please cite your sources.

          The creative reconstruction of history is exactly what is being discussed here and you do make a good case against it.

        • Re:just Turing? (Score:4, Informative)

          by chrb (1083577) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:50AM (#29262661)

          the punishment for homosexuality in canon law is a mild form of banishment.

          The Christian punishment for homosexuality has traditionally been execution. The following extracts are taken from a document on Canon law and homosexuality [williamapercy.com]:

          If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with awoman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20: 13, reinforcing the earlier prohibition in 18:22). From this dire injunction, which applies to male homosexuals only, stem all later Western laws prescribing the death penalty for sodomy. ...

          After the Roman Empire's recognition of Christianity as effectively the state religion (A.D. 3 13), capital enactments against male homosexuality made their way into the Civil Law. One statute of 342 prescribed death by the sword, another of 390 indicated burning. ...
          A new wave of hostile legislation emerged in the twelfth century, starting with the Nablus Council of 1120, which specified burning. The prevalence of this penalty is based in part on the Sodom story, but it also reflects the parallel with heretics who were usually burned. A somewhat later French law required execution only on the third offense. ...

          Christian Emperors when they became heads of the church meted out savage penalties for unrepentant sodomites: the sons of Constantine the sword, and Theodosius and Justinian the avenging flames ...

          the council of Nablus, preoccupied with sodomy, decreed in 1120 that guilty men should be burnt at the stake ...

          at the moment when the Virgin Mary was giving birth to Jesus, all sodomites died a sudden death. From then on, canonists regularly cite Justinian's Novella 77 that disasters such as famine, pestilence, and earthquake, to which many added floods and other natural catastrophes, are divine retribution for 'crimes against nature." ...

          Like the Scholastics, canon law treated homosexuality, bestiality, and masturbation as contra naturam, "contrary to nature," because they excluded the possibility of procreation, which thus became the touchstone of sexualmorality. Such crimes on the part of a religious constituted sacrilege, because his or her body was a vessel consecrated to the service of God. ...

          the papal Inquisition in due course in certain regions extended its jurisdiction to sodomites as well, now viewed as allied with supernatural powers, demons, devils, and witches. The convicted were handed over to the secular authorities for punishment; in time the secular governments were to act independently of the Church in prescribing and enforcing the death penalty. Before execution, confessions were wrung from victims by torture.

      • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:27AM (#29260305) Journal

        Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary

        The Head of State [wikipedia.org] is the same. It makes sense for her to apologize (or not).

      • by pavon (30274) on Monday August 31, 2009 @10:16AM (#29261171)

        I agree that apologizing for something that you didn't to to people who are no longer alive doesn't make much sense. I think that John's first suggestion of knighting him is a great idea. It's not an apology; it is honoring him for his tremendous contributions to the country, in spite of the horrible way he was treated.

        It has much of the same social benefit that apologizing to him would. He should have been knighted while he was alive, and the only reason he wasn't was because he was gay. Choosing to do so now recognizes this fact and states that we will no longer overlook someone because of their sexuality.

        If you want to apologize, apologize to the people who are still living that were put though this garbage. For Turing in particular the important thing is to remember what he accomplished and what he was put through, and officially honoring him is an excellent way to do this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      That of course is the biggest problem with the petition. All should be treated equally under the law, so while they might call the petition under his name and as a memorial to his efforts, the petition should actually seek redress for everyone wrongfully persecuted under that legislation.

    • Re:just Turing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:25AM (#29259593) Journal

      I'd just be happy to see the British apologize for their current hateful policies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Which ones?
    • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:27AM (#29259609)

      ... I want big $$$ compensation for what the Tories did to my Colonial ancestors! Cold hard cash in 100 Euro bills would be nice, but I'll settle for Paypal and lose that 2.9 percent if that's how it has to happen.

    • Re:just Turing? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:16AM (#29260161)

      Why don't we just have everyone apologize to everyone else for being short-sighted and only interested in their own goals? That pretty much covers everyone and every nation, ever. Both individually and collectively.

      There's a certain point where it just makes the world a better place if you just go around forgiving people if they are genuinely sorry rather than trying to extract reparations and apologies from everyone for everything. I know that there are still open wounds in many places, but they don't heal as well if you keep picking at them.

  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:11AM (#29259439)

    Bluntly? Screw it.

    Screw an apology and a pardon, screw knighthood and whatnot. That man had no small impact on the outcome of the breaking of German codes and thus the outcome of the war. And the thanks was to prosecute him 'cause he was gay.

    If that happened to me, I'd have wanted to kill myself for helping those hypocrites. Well, maybe he did. I couldn't care less about a half-assed apology half a century after driving him to suicide (or killing him altogether, depending on your point of view).

    It's a bit like the history of Joan of Arc. Very popular and welcome in times of dire straits but quickly dumped once no longer useful and deemed a "security risk".

    No thanks. I know what Turing did. For himself, for science, for "us" geeks. Whether you care about him, whether you apologize, frankly, it doesn't matter.

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:18AM (#29259517) Journal

      Whether you care about him, whether you apologize, frankly, it doesn't matter.

      Right, but Turing was homosexual and you're not ... or at least all accounts and his trial for "gross indecency" indicated it. I think that historically we need to not only recognize people who were homosexual but celebrate them. An apology from the British government and/or knighthood would not only be an apology to Turing but an apology to those that were tried for the same reason. Turing isn't alone in famous figures tried for "gross indecency" with Oscar Wilde [wikipedia.org] suffering the same charge. I'm sure there's a lot more. But if you had an uncle or aunt that was tried and jailed long ago for homosexuality, you could view this apology as an apology to every British citizen who was persecuted for the way they were born.

      Also, I often find myself (an American) debating people who believe that homosexuality is a choice. Alan Turing is a great counterexample. Why would you "choose" to be gay if it meant this kind of punishment and drove you to take your life? And it's not like he was illogical, he's one of the greatest recent logicians.

      I think the apology would mean a lot to a lot of people and be another reason to 1) learn more about the man Alan Turing and remember him as more than just a computer scientist and 2) celebrate gay culture and heritage.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:28AM (#29259627)

        I would see it as an apology to homosexuals for their treatment if it was an apology to homosexuals for their treatment. Not any moment sooner. What's the statement of an apology to Turing but no other person ever tried under anti-homosexual laws? "It's still not cool to be gay, but we might descend to apologize to you if you're a fag but just so happen to save the empire and we then drive you to suicide". What kind of an apology is that, especially to the others accused and tried under this law? It's a slap in the face rather than an apology. You may rest assured that, if (big IF) that apology is eventually uttered, we'll see a lot of stress on how much Turing did for the victory of WW2 and how "misunderstood" he was, and so many other beautiful euphemisms to cover up the stink that they essentially dumped someone who had more impact on the beneficial outcome of WW2 than any general or any politician just because he's not into pussy.

        An apology to Turing without an apology to the others that suffered the same fate but just didn't manage to somehow save the Empire is a slap in the face. Not an apology.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plastbox (1577037)

        Also, I often find myself (an American) debating people who believe that homosexuality is a choice. Alan Turing is a great counterexample. Why would you "choose" to be gay if it meant this kind of punishment and drove you to take your life? And it's not like he was illogical, he's one of the greatest recent logicians.

        While I do love this as it gives me another argument against people who blindly thrash through life with no regard what so ever for logic, fact and common sense, I must say I disagree with you somewhat.

        Why celebrate "gay culture and heritage"? You seem like you respect Alan Turing, ergo I assume you pride yourself in logic thinking and sense. Would you argue that from a scientific, logic point of view, homosexuality is not a flaw? I mean, if ever I saw a trait that evolution would suppress, this would be it

        • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

          by radtea (464814) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:49AM (#29260695)

          Would you argue that from a scientific, logic point of view, homosexuality is not a flaw? I mean, if ever I saw a trait that evolution would suppress, this would be it.

          Yet homosexuality is a widely observed phenomenon.

          Ergo, either evolution is broken, or there is something going on that is more subtle and interesting than your naive notions of what is adaptive or "logical". Personally, I'm betting the latter.

          "I can't make sense of this in evolutionary terms" does not mean "This does not make sense in evolutionary terms." It most probably means, "There are things that make sense in evolutionary terms that I don't understand (yet)."

          Given the known correlation between homosexuality in male humans and birth order (men with older brothers are more likely to be homosexual) there is such a stunningly obvious evolutionary reason for it that I can't be bothered to explain it to you.

        • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vadim_t (324782) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:53AM (#29260767) Homepage

          Would you argue that from a scientific, logic point of view, homosexuality is not a flaw?

          Why, yes I would.

          I mean, if ever I saw a trait that evolution would suppress, this would be it.

          Yet after millions of years, it didn't. Go figure.

          The last theory on it I heard is that homosexuality frees up a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on breeding and caring for their own children. That means they have time to support their tribe/relatives, improving the group's chances of survival. And their genes still get passed on by their straight relatives.

          Not all traits have to be always beneficial in all times and places. Sickle cell anemia is a well known example.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by chrb (1083577)

          homosexuality is not a flaw? I mean, if ever I saw a trait that evolution would suppress, this would be it.

          And yet, homosexuality exists, and separated twin studies show convincingly that there is a genetic basis for it. So maybe there is a flaw in your reasoning? Various hypotheses have been proposed, that homosexuality may benefit the family group rather than the individual, that it was only recently in history that it became usual for homosexuals to not have a regular partner of the opposite sex, that homosexual men rank higher than straight men on various tests of agreeableness and other positive personality

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Allicorn (175921)

        An apology penned by the persons who currently constitute government in the UK would be utterly meaningless since those are not persons who had anything to do with Turing's treatment.

        "The Government" is not some sentient, undying, collectively intelligent entity which can itself apologise for its behaviour. It is merely a label for a group of individuals currently fulfilling certain roles.

        By all means seek out politicians and civil servants who had a direct hand in injustices of the past and pursue them for

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:19AM (#29259525)
      It's true that it's just a symbolic act at this point. But symbolism does matter sometimes. Such apologies are a reminder of how we can lose our way, particularly in paranoid times. That's a not-unimportant lesson for our post-9/11 era.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I kind of agree with this to a great extent... but I find myself believing that he should get a knighthood. Not because of his treatment but because the guy earned it and saved a lot of lives with his code breaking work.

  • Pardon unlikely? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:11AM (#29259441)
    Excuse me, but WHY would his pardon be unlikely? He was convicted of something that is totally legal today! Shouldn't they be pardoning EVERYONE convicted under these acts? He was convicted for having sex with a man in the privacy of his own home! These idiots shunned one of the most brilliant members of their society because of who he wanted to have sex with! If there are any conservative Christians out there who need an example of why their gay-bashing is idiotic and obscenely counter-productive, look no further than the case of Alan Turing.
    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:19AM (#29259527)

      If there are any conservative Christians out there who need an example of why their gay-bashing is idiotic and obscenely counter-productive, look no further than the case of Alan Turing.

      Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual..

      Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!! You want to get angry, you want to get fired up, you want to actually do some good and maybe save some lives, go after Sharia, today, not Britain 50-60 years ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hansamurai (907719)

        Sure, we've moved on, but we all still have a long way to go with plenty of moving on to still occur.

      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:28AM (#29259633)

        Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!!

        Which is why same sex partners can get insurance covered the same as heterosexual partners. Which is why gay marriage is legal throughout the US. Which is why gay men don't get beaten and killed regularly by homophobes in the US. Which is why homosexuals can serve openly in the US military and be war heroes like Turing was without being punished if their homosexuality is discovered like Turing's was.

        Sorry, but the US and many EU countries are a long long way from "over it". There is still a lot of work to be done and Turing is a good example to the world, both the west and east as to why we should be getting over it and moving on. Obviously the abuses in some countries that are not christian are as bad or worse, but that's the "we're not as bad as China" defense and it doesn't hold up. What happens in Iraq doesn't make what happens in Arkansas any less horrific and the poster you're responding to was right to point that out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual..

        I was always taught to get your own garden in order before you go looking over the fence. Lead by example and all that.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:38AM (#29259725)

          People see what they want to see.

          People that want PERSONS A to be evil hate filled monster will see everything that makes them evil hate filled monsters.

          People that want PERSONS B to be perfect saints will see all the things that make them perfect saints.

          People that try to point out that B has some parts of A or that A has some parts of B are told to shut up because A is A and it's the monster while B isn't the issue here it's A you goddamn monster. Stop trying to make it look good when A is filled with bastards like you.

      • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:47AM (#29259787)

        Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual.

        First of all, I never said it's only fundamentalist Christians who bash gays. Fundamentalist Christianity is, however, one of the last and greatest bastions of hatred and bigotry left in the first world. I absolutely do not give Islam a free pass on anything, it is a vile, barbaric belief system that subjugates women and preaches intolerance. Fundamentalist Islam, however, is much less of a problem in progressive societies, however, as most fundamentalist Islamic societies are otherwise backward dictatorships that would be suffering the same human rights abuses under a similar, secular dictator. In the U.S., it is more or less impossible to get elected to higher office without professing belief in the Christian God. Fundamentalist Christians have their finger on the button and have huge sway over the minds of the people. We let people like Jerry Falwell (well not him anymore; thankfully, the God I don't believe in felt fit to strike this particular hateful gasbag down) and Pat Robertson spout the worst kind of vile hatred live on television because they do it in the name of the almighty jeebus. Fundamentalist Christians are, by far, the biggest threats to equality and freedom in America and western Europe. Thankfully, the world is beginning to leave these idiots behind as they are proven to be wrong again and again by science, and our reason brings their bigotry and backwardness to the light of day.

        Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!!

        I wish this were the case, but it is not. Homophobia is still rampant. Gays are not allowed to serve in the military. Gay marriage is gaining traction, but encountering severe resistance. Gays still feel pressure to stay in the closet for fear of repercussions. Society has come a long way, but it still has a ways to go before people can grow out of their prejudices.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymusing (1450747)

          "Fundamentalist Christianity is, however, one of the last and greatest bastions of hatred and bigotry left in the first world."

          As a Christian of the non-fundamentalist type, I'm sad to say that I agree with you on this.

        • by Zordak (123132) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:36AM (#29260461) Homepage Journal

          Fundamentalist Christianity is, however, one of the last and greatest bastions of hatred and bigotry left in the first world.

          You need to get out more. There is plenty of hatred and bigotry to go around in the world, and if all the fundamentalist Christians disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, that wouldn't change. In fact, that statement itself reeks of hatred and bigotry.

      • by VShael (62735) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:18AM (#29260183) Journal

        Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!!

        Yay the 21st century! Where we legalised torture, and turned a blind eye to torturers. Where doctors who perform legal services can be shot while serving as an usher in church. Where gay couples can have their marriage rights taken away from them.

        Now, which country MIGHT I stand a chance of making some change in... the western democracy where I live, or some Sharia-ridden country where I am lucky enough NOT to live?

        I know... I'll go after the guys living *over* *there*. Otherwise, I might actually change something here, and that could make YOU uncomfortable.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:11AM (#29259443) Homepage Journal

    Why not a general to all people who have been victims of unfair discrimination?

  • by tolcreator (1628477) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:13AM (#29259457)
    Just... Wow. I'd heard of Turing's contribution to computer science of course but the notion of a state that will castrate you for being Homosexual is nightmarish... and 1952 isn't all that long ago. I suppose it's a good thing that such an act can be considered so outlandish and horrific today.
    • by sh00z (206503) <sh00z&yahoo,com> on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:39AM (#29259729) Journal

      Just... Wow. I'd heard of Turing's contribution to computer science of course but the notion of a state that will castrate you for being Homosexual is nightmarish... and 1952 isn't all that long ago. I suppose it's a good thing that such an act can be considered so outlandish and horrific today.

      Unless you were being deliberately ironic, don't be so quick to congratulate Western society for how wise we are "today." After all, Magdalene Asylums [wikipedia.org] were a roughly equivalent "treatment" for a similar "condition," and the last of these, in Ireland, wasn't closed until 1996.

  • Alan Turing Memorial (Score:4, Informative)

    by ctid (449118) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:23AM (#29259565) Homepage

    If you're visiting Manchester in the north-west of England, don't forget to visit the statue of Alan Turing: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=53.476722,-2.236028&spn=0.01,0.01&t=m&q=53.476722,-2.236028 [google.com].

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:23AM (#29259571) Journal

    There is no reason why the current UK govt. wouldn't do this - after all, it's apologizing for something that a completely different set of leaders is guilty of. They will do it for no other reason but because it makes sheer political sense. No, not because it's the right thing to do.

    Likewise, the Lockerbie bomber wasn't released because it's the right thing to do, but because Gaddafi all but publicly promised natural gas and oil at favourable prices, in return.

    In other words: fuck it all.

  • To what purpose? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gmail. ... m minus language> on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:34AM (#29259683)

    Look, Turing's been dead for 50 years. The politicians that made the laws he was convicted under are all dead. The judge who sentenced him is dead. The police and the lawyers and everyone else involved are most likely dead.

    A corporate body cannot take responsibility, only an individual can, and our major moral problem is that we keep deluding ourselves into thinking that "corporate morals" means something. It doesn't. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU DO, and "just taking orders" is never an excuse. Just as a bureaucracy cannot take the fault for a heinous act, it can no more offer real contrition, nor can it offer a real apology.

    (Which is, incidentally, one of the major reasons our society is so screwed up. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis from an intro to one or the other edition of Screwtape Letters, the great evil done today is not done by thieves and criminals in the dens of crime Dickens loved to paint, but by well-dressed men in offices, acting behind the shield of a bureaucracy.)

  • by warren.oates (925589) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:38AM (#29259717)
    What about Oscar Wilde, then?
  • Let me spell it out (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FatalTourist (633757) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:39AM (#29259727) Homepage
    It's not a literal apology to Turing. This wouldn't make sense, he's dead. This is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It goes toward making sure it never happens again. This apology is for living people. It's the UK government saying "Don't persecute gays, because they might be awesome and invent computers."
  • by noisyinstrument (1624451) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:51AM (#29259835) Homepage

    Simple test: Can a politician can deliver a heart felt apology for mistakes made by the British Government and convince someone hearing it that its actually sincere.

    In 50 years nobody has passed the test, I won't hold be holding my breath for this one.

  • Be more consistent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by haxor.dk (463614) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:52AM (#29259841) Homepage

    Have every government apologize for all cases of discrimination, murder, destruction, theft, pollution, pillage and enslavement that they have done in the past, and have them pledge to not do so in the future.

    But that would be utopian, when the fact of the matter is that the electorate of all western nations in some form or degree wants the above. (Yes, that most likely includes you, the reader, as well.)

  • what's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:06AM (#29260019)

    Yeah, Alan Turing was really important to computer science. And he suffered because of a law that we currently find injust. But what's the point of this posthumous apology? The guy is dead. He's not going to feel any better if someone says they're sorry.

    Is the point to get his name out there? To increase his fame? To get him the recognition he deserves? Why? Yeah, he's a big deal to computer scientists... But the world doesn't revolve around us. Why is it so necessary for the world to recognize his contribution specifically?

    Is the point to make the British government apologize for treating people badly in the past? Again - why? They don't do that anymore, do they? Homosexuality isn't currently on the books as a crime, is it? Isn't that enough then? And if it isn't, where do you stop apologizing? Are you going to ask for a formal apology to every single person who was convicted of a crime that we now disagree with?

    The past is the past. Bad things happened, innocent people suffered, but it is over now. Time to move on.

    I'm not suggesting that we sweep all this nastiness under the rug, hide it, or forget about it... By all means, let's learn from our mistakes... But apologizing to dead people just doesn't get you very far.

  • Gay?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sanosuke001 (640243) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:07AM (#29260039)
    Turing was gay? Wow, surprised I haven't heard of that yet. Though, now when someone is homophobic, I can ask them if they like using computers and if so, tell them they have a gay man to thank for a lot of the theory behind them as well as the allies winning WWII. That should shut them the hell up.
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrBuzzo (913503) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:20AM (#29260197) Homepage
    Alan Turning doesn't care that he was persecuted. He's dead. He cared back when he wasn't dead, but that's no longer the case. You can apologize to him, but he won't hear it. He's dead. Yeah, it sucks what happened to him, but not much you can do about it now.
  • by Evil Shabazz (937088) on Monday August 31, 2009 @09:22AM (#29260237)
    Cuz I have yet to hear of one ever working in the US...
  • As I see it, (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anne Honime (828246) on Monday August 31, 2009 @10:09AM (#29261059)

    Turing desserves an apology because any security lookup done during wartime certainly had already uncovered this aspect of his personality, but the brits were more than happy to turn a blind eye on it in spite of the already existing laws.

    The later prosecution was application of a double standard in this regard.

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