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No Pardon For Turing 728

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-the-crime-do-the-time dept.
mikejuk writes "A petition signed by over 21,000 people asked the UK Government to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. That request has now been declined. A statement in the House of Lords explained the reasoning: 'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted. It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd-particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort. However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.'"
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No Pardon For Turing

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  • It's not a choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Monday February 06, 2012 @09:52AM (#38941025) Homepage

    ensure instead that we never again return to those times

    Then perhaps pardoning him would be a step in the right direction?

  • Well yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @09:54AM (#38941057)

    They are actually spot on with this. What entitles Alan Turing to a pardon above all others that endured the same fate? The statement is clear and regrettable, and effectively a pardon to all rather than a select few - it's just not a formal pardon. If they had to do it with every past law that was deemed unfair by modern standards they would waste a lot of time, especially in the United Kingdom.

  • rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times

    This train of thought is not so stupid at all. "Pardoning" Turing would help no one, and would not increase his glory. The glory he has, he has in our minds.

    QFD

  • Re:In short (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:00AM (#38941119) Homepage

    Yes, because a posthumous pardon would sort out his soul.

    It is a sensible and consistent approach in the UK justice system that pardons are not issued if the person in question was fairly convicted by the laws of the time. Pardoning him would not undo what was done, he's long dead and unlikely to get better, the government has already apologised for the way he was treated and all this would really do is help to assuage our guilt.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:03AM (#38941147) Journal
    In the interests of fairness, they could just change the verdict from "guilty" to "Formally undecidable in many of the most interesting cases". That should justify the special handling.
  • Re:I have to agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:03AM (#38941151) Journal
    The government owes Turing's family and the rest of the country, even the rest of the world an enormous apology.

    Already done [bbc.co.uk]

    Really, I think that's all the government can do. I suppose a pardon might make us feel better but it's not going to do much to help. I propose we simply recognise him as a pioneer and as an important part of the codebreaking at Bletchley Park.
  • by eternaldoctorwho (2563923) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:03AM (#38941155)
    I think I see their point in that last statement. By "undo-ing" this awful thing, they would pretending like it never happened. It's the same justification why the Nazi concentration were never torn down: as a whole, the human race should never forget the immensely awful things that we were capable of in the past. To do so dooms us to repeat it. That being said, I am all for the pardoning of Alan Turing. He was a great man, cruelly betrayed by his own nation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:04AM (#38941167)
    Could offer a blanket pardon, to everyone convicted under those laws.
  • by Chrisje (471362) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:05AM (#38941171)

    No. As some other poster already commented, apologizing to his family, or for that matter to all families of people that got persecuted for similar reasons, would go a long way towards the right direction, but a pardon is just silly. The man got convicted, and is dead as a result of what happened A posthumous pardon would just feel like a big wallop of mustard after the meal.

    So at the end of the day I find the statement of the House of Lords quite correct, but would appreciate it if someone could apologize for this. Having said that, this is an endless cycle. In Holland, the Catholic Church needs to apologize for the Inquisition, but the protestants need to apologize for what they did to Catholics after the inquisition, the VOC people should apologize to the Indonesians, West-Africans, South-Africans (the black ones), the KNIL people should apologize to some Indonesians, the Japanese should apologize to some KNIL people I know, the English should apologize to us for taking Manhattan away, the Dutch should apologize to the English for giving them Manhattan, etc etc etc.

    The apology business is a never ending circle-jerk because if I had a dime for every group that has been maltreated somewhere on the planet during mankind's history, I'd never have to work again.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:07AM (#38941195) Journal

    Instead of retroactively correcting the injustices of the past, how about we look at who is suffering injustice today? What are we doing today that future generations will be appalled at? We still persecute people for making harmless personal choices. Let's stop.

  • by Troyusrex (2446430) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:09AM (#38941205)
    to judge people from a different age. Values change over time. Would it be just to posthumously find Thomas Jefferson guilty of slavery when it was legal in his time? There's probably something each of us is doing today that in 100 years will be looked back on as a hideous crime (keeping pets? Scolding our kids?) and there are things we consider crimes now that in 100 years they won't believe anyone was ever so primitive as to believe it's a crime (drug use? Assisted suicide?).
  • Re:I have to agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by manoweb (1993306) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:12AM (#38941247)
    Sometimes I think if pedophiles will be accepted by society and people will remember this time as persecuting them. So I would not judge the laws and the people of that time. Things change, what was once common (ancient Greece) becomes unlawful and then becomes normal again.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:12AM (#38941251)

    No, this is typical British "the procedure is king, even when it's unjust, destructive, and actively interferes with its announced purpose". The British worship of procedure is long established: anything that calls a procedure into question is ignored, even it is, in fact, contravened by procedure from a higher authority..

  • Of course it is. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:16AM (#38941285)

    And if reddit/atheism and Dawkins are anything to go by its adherents are basically the same rabid bigots that in the past would have been running the Inquisition in Spain "because we KNOW we're right!"

    Fundamenal Christianity and Rabid Atheists in the mold of Dawkins have basically the same mind set. Closed minded, intolerant of difference and utter certainty that they are right and that if you disagree with them then you are in some sense damned.

  • by khipu (2511498) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:17AM (#38941297)

    The term "pardon" means forgiveness of a crime, so the fact that Turing was properly convicted under the law back then isn't an obstacle to a pardon it is a requirement; if he hadn't been convicted, he couldn't be pardoned now.

    Furthermore, you pardon someone when you find that his positive contributions have outweighed the harm he has caused. For Turing, that is true not only because of his immense positive contributions, but because what he was punished for then is now not even considered worthy of punishment.

    If anybody ever was deserving of a pardon, it is Alan Turing. And you really have to wonder about the motivation of the UK government for denying it.

  • by gomiam (587421) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:19AM (#38941315)

    By "undo-ing" this awful thing, they would pretending like it never happened.

    Erm... no, sorry, it doesn't work like that. If you are found guilty, sentenced and later acquited for some reason (trial errors, being proven innocent, etc.) nothing disappears. Reversing the sentence on Turing doesn't automatically make the original sentence disappear, it doesn't make the petition to reverse that sentencing disappear, and it doesn't make the reversal disappear. Nothing would vanish in a cloud of smoke. Of course this make the comparison to dismantling Nazi concentration camps tenuous at best as no information would actually be lost.

    What they see as rewriting history I consider righting a wrong, and righting a wrong after the wronged one's death may not do much for him, but it does a non-negligible bit for us living ones (at least it stands as an example of willingness to do the right thing).

  • Re:I have to agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:20AM (#38941319) Homepage

    It's a lack of belief system.

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:23AM (#38941349)
    Only none of your reasons for acquittal apply here. There was no trial error and he wasn't innocent. There is no doubt as to his guilt (as there was no doubt about the guilt of Oscar Wilde either), it's just that the law that they broke was absolutely abhorrent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:25AM (#38941367)
    The difference between atheism and other religions is that atheists dont force others to follow their beliefs in terms of laws,etc
    They wont kill people in the name of religion, or stop people from eating beef, or censor online content,etc
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:28AM (#38941397)

    The important difference you are missing is that Atheists are right. If you don't agree with use then you are stupid and ignorant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:30AM (#38941421)

    I don't think you know much about Dawkins if that is your opinion of him. He states pretty clearly in 'The God Delusion' that he's not rabidly certain theres' no god. He's just certain enough that he sees no point to live his life otherwise (on the scale of 1-10, where 10 is absolutely certain there is no god, he puts himself at 8 or 9). And while there are some raging tools in the atheist community, I think most of us are pretty content to live and let live as long as religious folks aren't imposing on us. The best description I've ever heard of the 'militant atheist' mindset comes from P.Z. Myers, who said that his dream is for the day that religion will be like knitting: nice for those who are into it, but easy enough for the rest of it to ignore, and doing harm to no one.

    Contrast this with actual religion, whose most vocal adherents want some truly awful things done to the rest of us, and the claim that atheism is just another fundamentalist mindset is patently silly.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:33AM (#38941441) Homepage

    I am pretty sure the UK government did officially apologize for Turing's treatment (And I am sure they mentioned everyone else convicted of the same laws at the same time) like a year or two ago.

    And I concur, while pardoning him does not really wipe the evidence that it happened away it is still a step in that direction and not something that should be done.
    In a way, as a guilty man, he is a pioneering gay rights activist and that should be remembered not pardoned.
    It is no "crime" to be convicted of breaking an unjust law, and it can be considered a virtue.

  • by kubernet3s (1954672) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:34AM (#38941463)
    That's actually not what's at stake. That's the central error in the HoL's reasoning. It's not about "fixing" something they did wrong: yes, they humiliated and persecuted a man not guilty of violating any law a civilized society would enforce. However, the fact is that the official policy of the government has been, and indeed still is, that his contributions are illegitimate, and that rather than being one of Britain's dearest national treasures, he was a criminal and a deviant. The pardon is not about making right something about the past, but making right something which is wrong about the present.

    Turing needs to be pardoned so that the British government can affirm that it does not consider its old judgments valid. It will not cause us to "pretend it never happened," any more than the Catholic church's pardoning of Galileo caused us to forget his mistreatment. No one is going to look up Alan Turing in a textbook, see he was pardoned, and go "oh, well that's that then" and forget the barbarism of his time. And to act like upholding Turing's guilt will remind the government to always reflect on the errors of the past, as if it were some sort of cross they were nobly bearing, is egregiously deceptive and a little nauseating.

    Perhaps the most trenchant point people have made is that, by the logic that Alan Turing should be pardoned, all persons convicted of gross indecency for the practice of homosexuality should be pardoned. That is indeed correct. However, Turing is a fine place to start. If Amy fucking Winehouse can smoke crack on camera, and have the government twiddle its thumbs and look skyward, we can forgive someone who may be considered by no small stretch one of the architects of the modern world a little "indecency."
  • Re:I have to agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:35AM (#38941467) Homepage

    Unlikely. As has been pointed out in about a thousand places every time there a comparison between homosexuality and pedophilia, two homosexual men (or women) are adults capable of informed consent. A child is not and never will be able to provide informed consent, so there is unlikely to ever be a situation where children are seen as acceptable sexual partners. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality unless you accept that the only purpose of sex is procreation. Anyone who has ever had sex with another consenting adult outside of marriage and without the purpose of reproduction has done the functional equivalent of homosexual sex. Only rapists have done the function equivalent of child sex.

  • by eyrieowl (881195) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:37AM (#38941483)
    Rubbish. How many times have you seen someone write, "We ought to outlaw religion." or something to that effect. "Atheists" aren't and haven't been in a position of power to do such things, but if you think that there aren't *some* atheists who wouldn't try to impose their views on everyone if they had the opportunity, just like some religious folk do, you are sorely mistaken.
  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:40AM (#38941519)

    John Paul II did apologize for Church's Inquisition. I don't know how many times it needs to be done for it to be done. If once is enough, then consider it done.

    And it is certainly not enough. Waiting to apologize until everyone that remembers the great great great grandchildren of those that were alive during this time, so long that the "too soon" statute of limitations has expired and jokes are socially acceptable (you can choose between "Lets face it, you can't Torquemada anything!", or "Nobody expects!") and then brushing it off with an "our bad" is certainly not enough.

    But now that everyone is long long gone there is nobody left to stand for the dead. At least in Turing's case there are people alive today that can remember the man and the injustice. Perhaps trying to do the right thing could help those that are still alive.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:42AM (#38941543) Homepage Journal

    This topic is an obvious cheerleading piece for political correctness.

    We all know what we're "supposed" to say.

    As a result, it is not only boring, but works as a form of oppression to exclude any opinion which does not agree with the "correct" one.

    This is in contrast to science, where we explore experimental results, make tentative conclusions, and explore those through a heuristic process.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:47AM (#38941599)

    And I concur, while pardoning him does not really wipe the evidence that it happened away it is still a step in that direction and not something that should be done.
    In a way, as a guilty man, he is a pioneering gay rights activist and that should be remembered not pardoned.
    It is no "crime" to be convicted of breaking an unjust law, and it can be considered a virtue.

    Bullshit.

    The issuance of a pardon can be done in the manner to indicate that the conviction should never have occurred because the law you were convicted under was unjust.

    Which is better: An apology saying "well we're sorry you were convicted but you're still guilty", or a FULL apology acknowledging that the law was so unjust that it never should have existed, much less been the basis of criminal convictions?

    Not only that - if Turing were alive today, do you have any question they would have granted the pardon long ago? If it would be important to grant the pardon to a living person, it's just as important to grant the pardon today, for the peace of mind of his family and for the improvement of society in the FULL acknowledgement that what happened, and the laws it happened under, never should have.

    A man was harassed, persecuted, and driven to suicide by people enforcing an entirely unjust law. A pardon, posthumous or not, is in order.

  • Re:I have to agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:48AM (#38941607) Journal

    Sure, it's no longer as popular to hate on homosexual people as it was in the past, but we have all new forms of hatred and intolerance which our modern society deems acceptable, and which will be just as subject to the next generation's ridicule and derision.

    Atheism is the new red-headed step-child [ft.com].

    Hold on, hating on religion is popular, not hating on not-religion. Grow up.

  • by jholyhead (2505574) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:49AM (#38941611)
    Pardon's have been granted to soldiers shot for cowardice during WWI. Why is that an acceptable correction of an injustice, but this not? Cowardice was just as illegal as 'gross indecency' at the time, yet that was overlooked in favour of righting a grievous wrong.

    What a bloody disgrace.
  • by umghhh (965931) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:52AM (#38941639)

    ...And while there are some raging tools in the put here any religiously discussed world view community, I think most of us are pretty content to live and let live

    You replace atheist with anything else or leave it there and it is true (or not in case of nut case splinter group). The reason is that bigotry seems to be a general faculty of man. Something humans love to hate religion or atheism makes no difference good thing is that it gives a good reason to blame others for anything or just for a sheer fun of hating others. Atheists or otherwise - they activists of each genre are bigots and love to hate. The reason is important only on the surface.

  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:04AM (#38941763)

    At this point they do have a point. Turing is dead. A pardon changes what? The damage is done. It is in the history. If a person still lives under punishment from those laws, yes, a pardon is deserved as those laws no longer exist. This would be a mere glorified apology.

    That and I am not sure if the precedent would be a good thing. If they can pardon people for actions in hindsight for political motives, how long before someone gets the bright idea to try to retroactively convict?

  • by somersault (912633) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:07AM (#38941785) Homepage Journal

    the human race should never forget the immensely awful things that we are capable of. To do so dooms us to repeat it.

    FTFY.

  • by BlueScreenO'Life (1813666) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:07AM (#38941787)
    The issue is not about history being rewritten. The problem is it would set a bad precedent to retroactively pardon people who were convicted in the past under democratic laws just because the laws were unfair. If we're going to retroactively apply laws, why not retroactively condemn people? For example, that would make it perfectly OK to declare Freud guilty of cocaine possession and consumption (which were legal in his days).
  • by phrostie (121428) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:12AM (#38941845)

    +1 if i had it

    They are no different.

    Last year there was an article i think where the scientist described himself as a Possibilian, because no scientific evidence existed either way.
    this should be the approach of any true scientific mind.

    a hardline Atheist is no different from any other hardline religious zealot. given the chance they condemn those that don't see as they do.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:20AM (#38941943)
    Does Turing deserve special treatment? Yes, he's a war hero and did a phenomenal amount for the modern world, but his suffering is just as harrowing as the suffering felt by thousands more, yet because they didn't have the ability to create computers as we know them, they are resigned to being second-class gays? That reeks of exactly what we're trying to stamp out, surely...
  • by softwareGuy1024 (2564569) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:24AM (#38941989)
    I think you missed his point. Choice or not, it was a moronic law. Even if it was his choice, why should he be persecuted for it?
  • by StingRay02 (640085) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:28AM (#38942019)

    Perhaps I misread the poster's intent, but I took the conversation as:

    "It's not a choice, so pardon the man."

    "What if it were a choice? Then the conviction should stand?"

    To be convicted of a crime and chemically castrated for being a homosexual is inhumanly wrong. Whether that homosexuality is a choice or not bears absolutely no weight.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:33AM (#38942061) Homepage

    I don't think very many seriously intends to outlaw religion any more than you would outlaw superstition. The frustration usually comes when someone wants to make laws based on what the Bible, Quran or whatever says, because it defies any rational discussion. You can't argue if death by stoning is right if the logic goes "Stoning is in Sharia law, Sharia law is part of the Quran, the Quran is the exact words of Allah, Allah is perfect so his words can't be wrong. QED." I actually get annoyed the other way too, when you need to use religion to promote virtues. So Jesus was compassionate, does that mean it wasn't a good thing before Jesus? Without Jesus? Do you seriously need heaven and hell as carrot and stick? Can't you give me good enough reasons without invoking the invisible man in the sky? I'm more than happy to discuss ethics, society, law and almost everything else when it comes to how human beings should act towards each other. But when I hear of religious fundamentalists that want to replace evolution with God snapping his fingers 6000 years ago in the school curriculum, then yeah I'm almost ready to outlaw such stupidity.

  • by bobbocanfly (1061244) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:43AM (#38942169)
    They turned a blind eye to it when he was working at Bletchley and was regarded as "indispensable" to the war effort. As soon as he was no longer required they stopped turning a blind eye and he was convicted. Many would see that as betrayal.
  • by geminidomino (614729) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:45AM (#38942201) Journal

    Not really. Like most government "official" apologies, it'll always be tainted by the unspoken but undeniable appendix "We're sorry...that the victim turned out to be famous and we got called out for being dickheads"

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:49AM (#38942227) Journal

    Make public domain all his works. And I don't mean his manuscripts which are poorly catalogued and barely readable (and unpractical to read, as they are scanned as bitmaps). What I mean is, make public domain his published papers - all of them. It's a damn shame that in 2012 we still can't access his last paper "Solvable and unsolvable problems", published in Penguin Science News 31, in 1954!

    And for those who don't know, "Solvable and unsolvable problems" may be Turing's most important work, one that casts a dark cloud over our misplaced certainties.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:52AM (#38942265)

    "If we're going to retroactively apply laws, why not retroactively condemn people?"

    Naw, but you can retroactively mormon-baptize your Atheist father-in-law after their deaths, that's legal.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:58AM (#38942355)

    Sexuality, gay strait or bi, is biological and natural.

    No, the religious martyrs die because they suffer from a debilitating infectious mental illness otherwise known as faith. Once their minds are corrupted by that memetic vector, they no longer have true free will and are subject to the will of the memes that pass through the hive mind. Consumption of a single host is insignificant to the hive, and may even provide vectors for infection of new hosts.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:58AM (#38942363)

    And it is certainly not enough. Waiting to apologize until everyone that remembers the great great great grandchildren of those that were alive during this time, so long that the "too soon" statute of limitations has expired and jokes are socially acceptable (you can choose between "Lets face it, you can't Torquemada anything!", or "Nobody expects!") and then brushing it off with an "our bad" is certainly not enough.

    Should we ask for an apology for waiting too long to apologize, as well?

    Perhaps protestants should complain that we havent gotten an apology for the Catholic Church's treatment of Luther, Wycliffe, etc. Or we could, you know, not act like an apology from someone who didnt commit the wrong to people who arent the wronged, has any meaning at all...

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:03PM (#38942423)
    Don't put all your weight on the question of whether behavioral disposition is a choice, or you may get trapped into defending everything from pedophilia to rape to securities fraud. For the most part we don't choose our feelings, only our actions. More to the point is the fact that homosexuality is a consensual choice with minimal impact on anybody else. That is what makes it different than the others I listed.
  • by Xest (935314) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:09PM (#38942521)

    See my comment here as to why I think this guy is wrong though:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2656331&cid=38942093 [slashdot.org]

    I guess it comes down to your outlook on Turing's pardon. It depends on whether you see Turing's mistreatment as an absolute insult to someone who did so much for the world that must be rectified, or whether you see it as that, and also a symbolic low point of the ongoing fight for better civil rights.

    I see it as the latter, we've made a lot of progress, and a lot of apologies over racism, but sexuality is still very much an ongoing battle. Whilst a church could never dream of discriminating based on race nowadays for example, it can on sexuality.

    I could say I'm a straight, white male, so it doesn't effect me, but that's not true- I am white, I am straight, and I am male, but it does effect me, it effects everyone - bigotry is one of the most fundamental problems our species still suffers to an unhealthy degree. I don't expect to see us rid of it any time soon, but we've made a lot of progress on women's rights, a lot of progress on fighting racism, but sexuality related discrimination? not so much. Any amount of official additional condemnation of it is a good thing, because that's what's required to fight it. When people as great as Turing can be effected by it so negatively then it absolutely effects all of us.

  • by softwareGuy1024 (2564569) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:15PM (#38942615)

    No, the religious martyrs die because they suffer from a debilitating infectious mental illness otherwise known as faith. Once their minds are corrupted by that memetic vector, they no longer have true free will and are subject to the will of the memes that pass through the hive mind. Consumption of a single host is insignificant to the hive, and may even provide vectors for infection of new hosts.

    Wrong, religious martyrs die because they oppose the religious norm. Following the popular conventions of the popular religion is the safe bet that rarely causes you harm. The martyrs may be good or bad, but they are always independent thinkers.

  • by alispguru (72689) <bane&gst,com> on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:21PM (#38942717) Journal

    In law, respect for the process is paramount, even when the process produces results that are obviously absurd or unjust. There was no procedural problem with Turing's abuse by the system, so there is nothing to change.

    In science, respect for results is paramount. If there is a reproducible result that shows the textbooks to be wrong, they will eventually be changed.

  • by Speck'sBacon (1042490) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:42PM (#38942975)
    My bias as an American and as a Catholic is that human rights are "endowed by their Creator." Even if you reject the notion of a Creator, I would say the implication is that human rights are by virtue of one's humanity, and not determined by the current state of written law. Otherwise, governments, monarchs, dictators, or the "law of the jungle" determine what is right and what is wrong.
  • by microbox (704317) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:43PM (#38942991)
    Instead of re-writing history, perhaps the crown could officially acknowledge the tragedy and point to the laws involved. We should never forget what happened to Turing. In this way, perhaps Turing's experiences will not have been for naught, and we can say a prayer for the closeted-bigoted-homophobic-christian-neanderthal-fagots [lancasteronline.com].

    Presentism is a bad thing. We should never forget where we came from. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we accrued to knowledge we have today at a tremendous cost to our ancestors.
  • by repetty (260322) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:45PM (#38943021) Homepage

    Here's StingRay02's statement:

    To be convicted of a crime and chemically castrated for being a homosexual is inhumanly wrong. Whether that homosexuality is a choice or not bears absolutely no weight."

    Here's your reply:

    Sexuality, gay strait or bi, is biological and natural.

    What I don't understand is why you bothered. He just said that choice or no choice, the origins of homosexuality are not the issue. And yet, you try to make it so.

    Please don't.

  • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:48PM (#38943065)

    A pardon is symbolic confirmation that current government no longer supports the ideology behind what they are pardoning.

    That does not sound right at all. A pardon is removing a conviction from someone's record. People get pardoned all the time, of all kinds of things that they still enforce. Someone cleared of murder would be pardoned of murder. It would not be a symbolic confirmation of anything, it just expunges the conviction from the person's record.

    I think you're looking for "official apology". As you noted below, a pardon is a formal procedure, not symbolic.

    The government has already disowned the viewpoint, it is clearly not legal to do the same thing these days. I think you may have an emotional investment in this argument, and it is clouding your argument. If you take a step back and think this through, and read all the comments, I think you'll see a pardon is unnecessary. And the official reply is legitimate - we can't go around pardoning people of things that were illegal at the time, and singling out one person for one crime is an affront to everyone who was considered guilty but not pardoned. Every person for every now-legal crime is not "a trivial act" so we just let it stand. Makes perfect sense, again unless you have a personal investment in this case.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday February 06, 2012 @12:50PM (#38943083)

    Being host to a different competing hive pattern does not make you independent.

    Nor does being host to a subset of a hive pattern that manifests in different behaviors that spread the larger memetic construct to new hosts.

  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory@ g m ail.com> on Monday February 06, 2012 @01:27PM (#38943607)

    Being "trans" is not a choice!?

    Are you seriously trying to claim that people have no control over whether they dress up as a member of the opposite gender and attempt to fool people into thinking that they are that gender?

    And what's with all this "being" language, anyway?

    Turing wasn't convicted for what he "was". He was convicted for what he did -- namely, invited another man whom he didn't really know to live at his apartment, getting robbed, then rubbing the Police's nose in the fact that he was violating the (then-current) law. He may not have been able to "choose" whether or not he was attracted to men, but he was certainly able to choose whether he invited a random sociopath into his home and got robbed on account of it. Moreover, he was able to choose whether to act out sexually in ways that he knew to be illegal. Contrary to much contemporary prejudice, when one is unable to enjoy sex due to social conventions (be they a prohibition of rape, a prohibition of pedophilia, or whatever) celibacy really is an option that many people have practiced throughout history and continue to practice today.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't think that homosexual behavior should be illegal in a free and democratic society. But that doesn't mean that one is convicted for "being" anything. And I can visualize a multitude of laws that might tend to criminalize GLBT behavior that are not unduly discriminatory (for example, a law prohibiting cross-dressing as a means of disguise, much like laws forbidding adults to wear masks in stores.)

    It's high time that people stopped characterizing sexuality as something we "are". We are NOT our sexuality any more than we "are" our circumstances -- we are what we do with our sexuality.

  • Um.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2012 @01:48PM (#38943841)

    Doesn't Turing represent a flaw in your logic?

    Being homosexual, he is still responsible for some of the greatest advances in recent human history. Thus he, by default, has done more and benefited humanity more despite his "notable handicap" than most of the straightest of men. This is in contrast to, say, (oh Godwin strike me where I stand) Hitler, a heterosexual enough man who has managed to actually thin the human herd quite a bit through systematic execution and warmongering.

    Or, if we need an example of a person who HAD children, why not Joseph Stalin or Kim Jong Il? Or Mary, Queen of Scots? Baby Doc? People who were trusted in positions of extreme political power and preferred the company of the opposite sex have still managed to do spectacular damage.

    I'm not saying that homosexuals are beyond such cruelty, but perhaps child-rearing is not as effective a primary motivator for human compassion as you would believe. Your absolutist philosophy on the subject has a lot of gaping, horrible flaws in it... maybe it would actually be a net benefit for the world if you too did not have children.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday February 06, 2012 @02:07PM (#38944085)
    "More to the point is the fact that any form of sexual *behavior* is a choice. One's sexual orientation is not" - AC, I agree with your revision of my post.
  • by datsa (1951424) on Monday February 06, 2012 @02:33PM (#38944373)

    This sounds suspiciously like "Hate the sin, love the sinner"

    Turing wasn't convicted for what he "was". He was convicted for what he did -- namely, invited another man whom he didn't really know to live at his apartment, getting robbed, then rubbing the Police's nose in the fact that he was violating the (then-current) law. He may not have been able to "choose" whether or not he was attracted to men, but he was certainly able to choose whether he invited a random sociopath into his home and got robbed on account of it.

    Rosa Parks wasn't arrested for what she "was". She was arrested for what she did, namely, sitting in the front of a bus, then rubbing the Police's nose in the fact that she was violating the (then-current) law. She may not have been able to "choose" whether or not she was black, but she was certainly able to choose whether she obeyed the law and sat in the back of the bus.

    Celibacy really is an option that many people have practiced throughout history and continue to practice today.

    Do you really believe that Turing should have become celibate because his sexual preferences were illegal?

  • by Fned (43219) on Monday February 06, 2012 @02:44PM (#38944483) Journal

    So because the government shielded him for the war they were indebted to shield him forever?

    Yes.

    When someone saves your ass, you owe them.

    People who turn on their benefactors the moment the danger is passed are, based on the history of storytelling, almost universally considered by cultures world-wide and throughout history as deserving of punishment or death.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 06, 2012 @03:59PM (#38945539)

    Why change the verdict at all?

    It make make us in the present feel better, but then we would be rewriting history.

    It may not be a bad thing that Turing remains forever convicted for that "crime". Along with his outstanding contributions to his fellow man he will serve as a reminder of how we did things wrong, and how we can continue to evolve and grow into a more advanced society.

    At first glance we might want to vilify the lords that refused and made that statement, but after further reflection, there might be some value in having him remain convicted for all time.

    Just an opposing point of view to consider.

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