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Alan Turing Finally Gets His Apology

Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited September 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Gordon Brown: I'm proud to say sorry to a real war hero
This 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 that 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 the Second World War.
So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) 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 the Second World War could 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 in conviction. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 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.

For those of you who don't know, Alan Turing was one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the 20th century. He is responsible for breaking the ENIGMA cipher and also for the foundation of computer science. His impact on modern society is utterly pervasive; even if you've never heard of him, the fact that you're reading these boards means you are touched by his achievements.

Unfortunately, Alan Turing was gay in a time where homosexuality was considered a mental illness. He was outed, which ended his career, and underwent chemical castration. Two years later, Alan Turing suffering from depression from his treatment at he hands of he British government, consumed half of a cyanide laced apple, killing himself.

Only now has the UK government apologised for what they did to him. Alan, you deserved far better. Rest in peace.

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Posts

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Without this dude we're all speaking German and the internet is something you fish with

    Sarksus wrote: »
    I'm gonna get a PhD in incest.
  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Alan Turing showed me how I'm not a machine!

    follow my music twitter soundcloud tumblr
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  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Man ain't that some shit. End world war 2 and you can't even get some ass fucking?

    Alan you deserved a lot better, you should have been greek!

  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2009
    Oh god I hated designing Turing Machines.

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  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I had no idea that happened to him

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    Sarksus wrote: »
    I'm gonna get a PhD in incest.
  • Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Without this dude we're all speaking German and the internet is something you fish with

  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    About fucking time.

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  • ElldrenElldren 3067-6294-6208Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

    what would you have preferred?

  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

    No apology will give him what he deserved, which was a long healthy life being able to be himself. However, it's good that the British government is at least saying that they fucked up. Without that admission, the UK remained doomed to the ignorance of the wrongness of their actions.

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

    what would you have preferred?

    I would have preferred a resurrection machine so the apology could be delivered in person, but I guess this will have to do.

  • MrMisterMrMister 7 cards in hand Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Preacher wrote: »
    Alan you deserved a lot better

    Valuing scholarship above all else, the inhabitants of the Ivory Tower reward those who sacrifice power for knowledge.
  • ElldrenElldren 3067-6294-6208Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

    what would you have preferred?

    Something a few decades earlier, and not from a government on its way out.

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    MrMister wrote: »
    Preacher wrote: »
    Alan you deserved a lot better

    It has to be said, no one deserves that fate, least of all someone who contributed so much.

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Most people aren't aware that a gay British dude saved western civilization and laid out the theoretical underpinnings for the computer revolution and then was persecuted into suicide

    I was aware.

    The apology fails to impress though.

    what would you have preferred?

    i think the implication is that its a bit too late

    guys dead

    did he have any relatives who are alive? they at least would give this some meaning. otherwise it's a collective feel good.

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  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I was all aware of Turing and his accomplishments, but the gayness and cyanide is new to me.

    What a neat bit of history.

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  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Man, I remember already knowing a bit about Turing as a kid as "The Turing Test dude" and thinking that was that. Everything I've ever read about him since has continually surprised me with new facts about how amazingly cool he was.

  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    MrMister wrote: »
    Preacher wrote: »
    Alan you deserved a lot better

    Hell of a way to go, though. Makes Socrates look like a chump.

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  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Podly wrote: »
    Alan Turing showed me how I'm not a machine!

    And how I am a machine.

    I love you, daddy Alan!

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Of course it should have come earlier. It shouldn't have happened at all. But it's something for a head of state to admit that the country did something grotesque.

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    This is actually a misconception; there have been a number of formal apologies

    Sarksus wrote: »
    I'm gonna get a PhD in incest.
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Of course it should have come earlier. It shouldn't have happened at all. But it's something for a head of state to admit that the country did something grotesque.

    Agreed.

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    This is actually a misconception; there have been a number of formal apologies

    seriously? I heard like a year ago on the radio about comfort women campaigning for it

    EDIT: Dang I am totally wrong about this. I must have misunderstood the piece. They set up a fund and everything. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women#Asia_Women.27s_Fund

  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    moniker wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Preacher wrote: »
    Alan you deserved a lot better

    Hell of a way to go, though. Makes Socrates look like a chump.

    Hey, you have the exact same sig I used for like two years

    high five

    reposig.jpg
  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Oh wow. I didn't think this would ever happen. Kudos to Brown for taking the time out.

    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    This is actually a misconception; there have been a number of formal apologies

    seriously? I heard like a year ago on the radio about comfort women campaigning for it

    Seriously.

    Most of those campaigns center around having the current Japanese government admit legal liability and provide monetary compensation. This becomes controversial because it's not clear that a Democracy should be held legally liable for the actions of a defeated Empire they replaced, nor whom at this point should be paid what. Nevertheless the Japanese government run "Asia Women's Fund" provides aid and a formal written apology to surviving comfort women.

    This is all offtopic though

    Sarksus wrote: »
    I'm gonna get a PhD in incest.
  • NerdgasmicNerdgasmic __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Oh god I hated designing Turing Machines.

    He would like to apologize for your inconvenience.

    @nealcm @faynor
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  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2009
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    Weren't they volunteers?

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  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    Weren't they volunteers?

    As much as the Jews were volunteers at the time?

    As to the topic:

    /salute

    Of course it's way too little and way too late... but it's never too late to symbolically own up to some absolutely heinous bullshit.

  • KageraKagera Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I think more could be done. Like a day of remembrance so people don't forget him or people like him who did so much and were still treated with persecution.

    Maybe that's too much though.

    “This is America. We’re entitled to our opinions.”
    “Wrong. This is Texas. And my opinion is the only one that counts."
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Obviously an apology is not enough - and it comes pretty late for something so blatantly obvious. But he did get a pretty rad statue a couple of years ago:

    alanturing460.jpg

    EDIT: turns out he already had another statue in Manchester, where he died, unveiled in 2001. He's even portrayed holding an apple, a pretty good in-your-face reminder of what happened to him, rather than a polite and sanitised memorial.

    450px-Alan_Turing_Memorial_Closer.jpg

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    Weren't they volunteers?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women

  • MrMisterMrMister 7 cards in hand Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I approve of the lesser-known fact about Turing's prosecution and death being brought into wider circulation.

    Valuing scholarship above all else, the inhabitants of the Ivory Tower reward those who sacrifice power for knowledge.
  • FencingsaxFencingsax Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    Weren't they volunteers?
    No, they were coerced.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it
  • FencingsaxFencingsax Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Yeah, I read a book a long time ago by Simon Singh called "The Code Book", and it had this in it. I can't imagine the loneliness and bitterness that this would cause.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Obs wrote: »
    Official apologies are always tricky business. They don't change anything or remove the past, but I think they're very important nonetheless. Japan has refused to apologize to the comfort women of WWII for example. I guess it is a good meter of national character.

    Weren't they volunteers?
    No, they were coerced.

    That's an understatement. They were raped repeatedly by the armed forces of an occupying power.

  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    MrMister wrote: »
    I approve of the lesser-known fact about Turing's prosecution and death being brought into wider circulation.

    Agreed I'll admit prior to Kakos's thread I did not know anything of this man.

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I'm glad I'm alive now. I can't imagine being presented with such a grotesque choice.

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