Government rejects Alan Turing appeal

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by speccybob, 8 Feb 2012.

  1. speccybob


    29 Jan 2010
    Not seen this posted. Thought it might interest some blues.

    <a class="postlink" href="" onclick=";return false;"> ... -computers</a>

    The government has given an initial rebuff to the campaign for a pardon for Alan Turing, the brilliant British 'father of the computer' whose career ended in tragedy after a gross indecency conviction at a time when gay sex was against the law.

    Signatures are gathering on an e-petition for a pardon but the justice minister Lord McNally used the precedent argument to discourage the notion in the House of Lords.

    Asked by the Liberal Democrat Lord Sharkey whether a pardon would be considered, to mark this year's centenary of Turing's birth which is the subject of international scientific celebrations, he told peers:

    The question of granting a posthumous pardon to Mr Turing was considered by the previous Government in 2009.

    As a result of the previous campaign, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal posthumous apology to Mr Turing on behalf of the Government, describing his treatment as "horrifying" and "utterly unfair". Mr Brown said the country owed him a huge debt. This apology was also shown at the end of the Channel 4 documentary celebrating Mr Turing's life and achievements which was broadcast on 21 November 2011.

    "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."

    Turing suffered twice-over during the episode in 1952 which was followed by his death from cyanide poisoning two years later. His crucial wartime role at the code-breaking centre of Bletchley Park could not be disclosed to anyone, including his colleagues at Manchester university where he effectively built the first modern computer.

    You can read more about his work in the Guardian Northerner's previous post on the campaign here. The website for the Alan Turing Year is here.

    Professor Barry Cooper of Leeds University, a leading mathematician who is chairing the centenary celebrations said:

    This is very disappointing – but we are regarding it as only an initial attempt to kick controversy into the long grass. Turing had an absolutely exceptional mind and we can only surmise what progress the UK lost through his tragic death. It would be a precedent but a welcome one, for all those lesser-known people who suffered similar disgrace and unhappiness at a time very different from our own.

    Cooper said that protests were coming in from all over the world, including one from the leading American mathematician Dennis Hejhal which deplored the government's use of precedent to defend the decision. In a message to Cooper, Hejhal uses maths to good effect:

    I see that the House of Lords rejected the
    pardon Feb 6 on what are formal grounds.

    If law is X on date D, and you knowingly
    break law X on date D, then you cannot be
    pardoned (no matter how wrong or flawed
    law X is).

    the real reason is OBVIOUS. they do not
    want thousands of old men saying pardon us
    too. I hope there is an appropriate hullabaloo
    in the UK.

    In his 2009 public apology, Gordon Brown said:

    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.

    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.

    The e-petition can be signed here.
  2. Good spot mate.
  3. mcmanus


    20 Nov 2008
    I'm in the cosy confines of an Oldsmobile... parke
  4. SWP's back

    SWP's back

    29 Jun 2009
    by the pool
    Fucking disgraceful comment that is.

  5. cockneycarparkm32


    20 Nov 2005
    Uptown skanking with dem crazy ball- heads
    Done . The Law still proving its an Ass I see, lets see what happens when its one of them .

    If ever they decide to build a statue to replace that B of the Bong it should be to nothing else but this man , Turing was the "bombe" .
  6. Skashion


    10 Aug 2009
    Being barbecued by paphos-mcfc
    I wonder if his gay lover called him baby.
  7. cockneycarparkm32


    20 Nov 2005
    Uptown skanking with dem crazy ball- heads

    What ! ! ! HE WAS GAY ;)) Polski , mate
  8. gordondaviesmoustache


    19 Oct 2010
    Any borough in England and Wales
    What happened to Alan Turing was disgraceful and shameful but I agree with this decision.

    We cannot take our contemporary views and laws and impose them on the past. To do so seems almost Orwellian and sinister.

    What, if for some reason, the age of consent was raised to 19 in the future. Would people want anyone who had sex with an 18 year old in the past charged with statutory rape? No, of course not. The law as it stands on a particular day should be a matter of fact, not opinion at a later date as to whether it was a 'good' law or not.

    It is right that people are aware that the laws as they stand are immutable. Any doubt with regards to that will undermine the rule of law and make people less inclined to obey the law in the hope that any conviction will get overturned at a later date as society comes round to their way of thinking. People must have a strong degree of certainty when it comes to the law of the land.

    Lastly, whenever I think of Alan Turing I always feel a little sad. What happened to him was tragic and most certainly to any right thinking person today, anachronistic. It angers me that the law was as it was in the 50's, but it does serve to remind me of how far we have come and how, in so many ways, we are a much better society now. Changing laws retrospectively would allow these injustices to be swept under the carpet.

    To my mind Alan Turing was a brilliant man who did as much to win the war as any other individual and the law as it stood then was wrong. Changing the law retrospectively will do nothing to alter those facts in my eyes. I'm afraid to say this wasn't a miscarriage of justice but instead a law that was, by modern standards, wrong. On that basis the verdict should stand and Turing should continue to act as a reminder of how much more tolerant we have become as a society - a fitting legacy and one that I am sure he would be proud of.
  9. BoyBlue_1985


    14 Nov 2009
    Dafuq is this shit
    I wanted to say this but no way i could of put it so well and i feared being shot down because of it
  10. Gelsons Dad

    Gelsons Dad

    22 Nov 2007
    Zurich Switzerland.
    Whilst I have the utmost respect for Turning's work and contribution to computing, I have to say I agree with the lords on this. He chose to disregard the law and as such was prosecuted and convicted.
    The specific law is not relevant to the discussion, only that it was law at the time and he knowingly chose to break it.
    If you disagree with a law, campaign to change it. Don't just ignore it. Society evolves and so do it's laws but the principle must remain.

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