Could be a good idea.
It would be good to raise the fact that our "Free Country", which Turing worked hard to protect, ended up persecuting him to death -- they should have thrown him in a concentration camp really and had done with it.
A grassroots UK campaign to a secure a posthumous apology for computing pioneer Alan Turing over his persecution for homosexuality has begun. Turing's conviction for gross indecency in 1952 brought an end to an outstanding career as a wartime cryptographer, mathematician and computing pioneer. Denied the opportunity to …
I'm a computer scientist and have spent most of my short life working with and around them so Alan Turing is a hero of mine and his persecution saddned me.
However I must protest. I don't understand why the sins of our fathers are constantly visited upon us?! The government of today was not responsible for the actions of the government of yesteryear (they've done far worse since...) and I wish we could stop being held accountable for things done in the past that we had no control or say in. I'm not condoning the actions but I don't see why the government should apologise.
While I appreciate the sentiment, and am fully aware of how important Turing was during the 2nd world war & for the development of computing, it does seem slightly unfair to single out just him.
How many other people were convicted for being homosexual and chemically castrated? Should they receive no apology.
In fact, I'm always dubious of the idea of a government apologising for another's mistakes. It's like me apologising to people for the actions of the SS just because my mother is German (born 1949): completely meaningless. Any apology smacks of the PR & spin that the current government is so fond of.
Flames? Because it's quite likely I'll be receiving them.
"It is atrocious that we don't recognise this man and the only way to do so is to apologise to him."
The "only way" is to apologise to him ??? ... if a fairly meaningless gesture is the best (never mind "only") thing we can do we're in a pretty poor state.
It would be a good thing if we generally accepted his homosexuality (which he was persecuted for) and his brilliance (which he is celebrated for). Otherwise we just perpetuate the hypocrisy in this extraordinary man suffered from.
Whilst I would never question the achievements of Turing I don't see how this is going to help. Why on earth should the Prime Minister of today apologise for the fact that the government of 50 years ago brought about a prosecution against someone who broke the law?
Honour his wonderful achievements. Don't drag up the past in order to try and make some meaningless political statement.
It was a Tory govenment in power at the time.
Churchill was in charge in fact, certainly sheds a different light on the "Greatest Britain of all time" doesn't it? God forbid the world know the "Greatest Britain of all time" was only slightly less of a fascist than Hitler and Stalin.
Who would it help? I'm gay myself, but I wouldn't feel better. The facts are out there, the injustice is recognised, none of this can be hidden any longer.
The way to right this wrong is to make it better going forward: no more anti-gay jokes and comments, casual or otherwise, tolerated in IT departments. Diversity in hiring. Helping make a better world so that no one suffers as Turing did, having served his country so brilliantly.
An apology from a descendent is ludicrous. It's meaningless.
Consider the following argument.
A man should apologise for the actions of his grandfather oppressing his grandmother, but his sister (also a grand-descendant) has no case to answer. This argument is ridiculous but it's used 50 times a day by feminists.
A similar argument doesn't even make sense when public businesses have to pay damages for something that happened 20 years ago, as the owners (i.e. shareholders,) are almost certainly not the same ones that owned it when the offence was committed.
Why don't people just accept history, and get on with the future? Despite Turing's contribution (which was great,) he has no descendents who have been materially disadvantaged.
Fifty years ago, suicide was illegal too. Are we going to apologise to those who were locked up for failing to kill themselves as well?
Fifty years from now, will we expect the police for arresting people for taking photos in 2009? Possibly a bad analogy as I expect they'll still be doing it.
Turing gets a whole cartoon to himself in this month's Viz magazine! Ends up with Churchill sending Turing to the firing squad as he is unable to decrypt messages in time due to his inexplicable need to walk across hot coals before making notes on his blackboard, during which time he forgets what the message was.
I would sign a petition calling for official recognition of Turing's work during (and following) World War II.
That he was homosexual should have had no bearing on his treatment by governments then or now.
That he should receive official, but public, recognition of his achievements would not only go a little way to righting a wrong but would also recognise that discrimination on sexual grounds should have no place in Britain today.
The people who were persecuted are dead, the people who did the persecuting are dead. Apologies are meaningless if they are carried out by people who have no stake in the matter. It would be like me apologising for the fact that some of my ancestors once implemented the danegeld.
The reason I think this could be good is that it's a good oportunity to say "British government apologises to gay geek who helped shorten the war". I think the headline itself may help some people think more.
I also don't think the fact he was gay, specifically, is the issue here -- he was persecuted for being different to the pathetic amoral standard of the time.
they do things differently there. It's futile to apologise to someone who's been dead for 50 years for things that were done by people who have been dead nearly as long - it does nothing for him and it makes no difference to us. I blame TB who, if he didn't start this mawkish trend, certainly popularised it with his 'apology' for slavery (which was immediately condemned for being insufficiently fulsome).
No doubt some of the things that we regard as perfectly correct in our society will be looked upon with horror in 50 years' time. The ancient Greeks would certainly have had some difficulty understanding our attitudes to paederasty. Perhaps there'll be future calls for apologies in this area, too.
@Ian 11 - is that your age or your IQ?
RE: Ian 11
"It was a Tory govenment in power at the time...... Churchill was in charge in fact, certainly sheds a different light on the "Greatest Britain of all time" doesn't it? God forbid the world know the "Greatest Britain of all time" was only slightly less of a fascist than Hitler and Stalin."
Nice to hear from the Clueless About History Department. It may have escaped your notice that plenty of Labour and Liberal politicians did nothing to remove anti-gay laws. I assume you just believe everyone to the right of Red Ken is a gay-hating facist? Have you even tried looking at what Stalin and his cohorts did to gays in the Soviet Republics as a matter of policy? The latter is extra ironic seeing as they targeted sympathetic gays when recruiting such spies as the Cambridge Five during the very period Turing was working, which was ahy being gay was considered such a security risk. No, that would require you to take the chip off your shoulder so you could actually see.
".....The way to right this wrong is to make it better going forward: no more anti-gay jokes and comments, casual or otherwise, tolerated in IT departments. Diversity in hiring. Helping make a better world so that no one suffers as Turing did, having served his country so brilliantly."
How about no jokes at all, just so we don't risk offending anyone? Or you could just grow a thicker skin and give as good as you get. And as for the diversity hiring idea, how am I supposed to implement that? Unlike coloured people, there is no obvious physical way to identify someone as gay unless you somehow walk into the interview with your boyfriend in mid-act. And seeing as the law also says I can't demand to know if you are gay how do I know if my team is "diverse" enough? Do I have to hit a quota of openly gay people, and can I count bisexuals? Suddenly, am I hiring you because you can actually do the job or just because you prefer playing hide the sausage with other men, and turning away someone better suited to the position, maybe someone from another minority group? How does that make a better world? If you didn't get a particular job you it might be because you were'nt the best candidate rather than everyone else is a closet homophobe.
Anything that helps raise the profile of important people of alternative sexual orientations is only a good thing. It helps break down the stereotype, something which in some cases certain gay men even help to perpetuate... (ever watch Will and Grace? They turned down John Barrowman for not being gay enough despite his being gay, and then hired a straight man)
I agree though it would be better to make a blanket apology. I still feel however highlighting important gay men will only help encourage people who are gay to be confident, and talking about ones from the past when being gay wasn't accepted will also give validity to the sentiment that being gay isn't a choice it is a fundamental part of who you are.
I'm not gay, but I am beginning to identify as bisexual. No I'm not just "confused", and the fact that I am likely to get as much discrimination from gay men as from straight shows that it isn't just an "easy option". Being bisexual is harder these days than being gay, at least in British society. I would like to see a stop to bisexual jokes too such as "they're just kidding themselves", and a stop to celebrities using it as a fashion statement or to get attention. Oddly mostly only women that do this though...
as ever, the administration of the time was acting in accordance with society. homosexuality WAS taboo and that made him potentially blackmailable. the dominant psychiatric model of the time was that he was mentally ill. again, not likely to be a safe bet for high level state security. hindsight's great, but how many of the signatories would have been so liberal at the beginning of the cold war. Turing was as great a briton as we've ever produced. Concievably he might still be alive to see the incredible fruits of his theoretical work. i might even have been able to meet him, and i can't think of anyone i'd be more impressed to meet. but an apology by the pm? eh?
We could have a global "bad behaviour" amnesty day where everybody says sorry for everything they or their ancestors ever did?!
Whilst I understand the intentions behind demanding an apology, I feel his memory would be better served if we worked to prevent such a thing ever happening again.
There are countless thousands of people who have done great deeds only to be screwed by their governments once they are no longer "needed."
"I presume Alan Turing wasn't the only homosexual to be persecuted in the period 1945-1955. Why should only he get an apology?"
Because he is a public figure. He created some of the foundations for the "connected society" that the government is in love with.
Because we lost up to 50 years of a very intelligent man who could possibly have influenced for the better the introduction of technology throughout British society.
Because it costs Brown exactly NOTHING.
Because it is the correct thing to do?
Why apologise to someone after they are dead? I could understand an apology to family members or even friends but there is no point offering an apology to someone who is not around to receive it.
As others have said, there were may people affected by the legislation in question - should they not receive an apology because they are not well known? Why stop with homosexuals - how about other dead people affected by other types of unfair legislation?
That Turing is relatively unknown is not because he was a homosexual but because his accomplishments were in computer science, not in the arts like Oscar Wilde.
The Turing Case is a good example of how homosexuals were abused in the past. Admitting that it was wrong, not quite the same as apologising, and publicising the whole story, would be a good thing. Governments cover up enough mistakes as it is.
An apology? That's for the people who did these things, not for the current mob.
More recently, there's the way the courts distorted the decriminalisation of homosexuality after the 1967 Act. It's not crazy to require privacy, especially in the context of the time, but the way the courts defined privacy was a mockery.
Have we learned better? I'm not sure we have. But admitting the mistakes of the past, and making plain they were wrong, and should not be repeated, is part of how things do get changed, and stay changed.
All I can be sure of is that my attitudes have changed, through meeting people, and experiencing thimgs my parents could never have admitted to imagining. But can I believe that the courts and the legislators have changed?
No, Mr. Brown, it's not enough to have openly gay Cabinet members. I'm not gay. My kinks are not your admitted kinks. I want to know that you're not going to use ill-written laws to force your choices on me.
He is well recognized. How many people in computer science etc have not heard of Turing Test, Turning Machine, Turing Awards,...?
I bet more people know of Turing than know of Haskell, Ørsted, Tesla and many others.
The main reason he was not recognized was because of the hush-hush nature of the whole war effort. If anything, Turing perhaps got a disproportionately large recognition for his war efforts. There are a lot of other significant contributors to code breaking that nobody remembers at all. Perhaps some of that was because he was dead and out of the picture, thus taking the heat off others still bound by secrecy etc and just wanting to get on with their lives.
Sure, he got victimised for being gay, but that was a crime at the time and it would be ridiculous to give him a pardon without giving other gay people of the time pardons too. We can look back on the past with some condemnation, but we can't change the past.
Suggesting that Turing should get special pardon becuase of his contributions just sends the message that gay is bad, but we'll ignore it in Turing's case because of his contributions.
The 1950's were considerably different from today.
What might be better is to acknowledge that the state played some part in Mr Turing's sadnesses.
But i don't expect that either as some researcher will wish to identify who caused the grief and for what purposes. You ain't gonna get any UK civil servant to do that.
By the same logic of "the past is done, the people responsible are dead, there is no reason to apologize," we could say "the past is done, the Board of Directors of the corporation that made all those asbestos ceiling tiles are no longer with the company, the current Board of Directors had nothing to do with it, so there is no point in paying damages to the families of the people killed."
When a group of people acting together does something wrong, as long as that entity still exists, that entity is responsible for those things, even if some or all members of the original group quit, retire, die, whatever.
Though, to be honest, I think all us Yanks owe you Brits a debt of gratitude.
You guys really had an opportunity at the end of WWII to create a whole brand-new computer industry; had Alan Turing been given the proper support and funding, it's entirely possible that you guys would have invented modern electronic computers first, and you'd be the economic powerhouse of the world.
But instead you said "Eeek! He's gay!" and fumbled the lead, allowing us over here on this side of the pond to dominate what would become arguably one of the single most important parts of post-industrial society.
It's as if someone invented the first steam engine, and the society he lived in said "He's gay, so let's kill him and not follow up on this technology," and simply handed it off to some other nation.
So as a Yank, thank you. You had an opportunity, you fumbled and passed it to us, and we have benefited enormously from it.
Agreed he deserves recognition, but then so do Dilly Knox, High Alexander, Gordon Welchman and of course Rozycki, Zygalski and Ciezki (apologies for non accented characters) along with many, many others from the listening stations to the seaman who risked (and sometimes lost) life and limb by boarding sinking enemy ships to grab code books / machines.
Essential reading : "Enigmia - The Battle For The Code" by Hugh Sebag Montefiore and if you haven't yet been to Bletchley get over there! They have started a flickr group, worth checking out.
"Because he is a public figure..."
So it's only injustice if your famous?
"Because we lost up to 50 years of a very intelligent man who could possibly have influenced for the better the introduction of technology throughout British society."
It sounds like society has already punished itself.
"Because it costs Brown exactly NOTHING."
Is that another way of saying the apology is worthless?
"Because it is the correct thing to do?"
No it isn't. The correct thing to do is to stop criminalising the harmless behaviour of consenting adults because it falls outside some pseudo-moralistic boundary.
You idiots with "if you don't like a bit of a laff, piss off". I do like a bit of a laugh, but at funny things. If you're paranoid about the poofters and what happens when you bend over for the soap, just go watch a few re-runs of Benny Hill. I'd rather have a laugh at something that's actually humorous.
"A man should apologise for the actions of his grandfather oppressing his grandmother, but his sister (also a grand-descendant) has no case to answer. This argument is ridiculous but it's used 50 times a day by feminists."
Here we go. We talk about one oppressed group of people, and suddenly it's all about the evil feminazis. Give it a bloody rest. No, men should be *doing something about* the *continued* screwed-up gender inequalities still going on today, not just wahing on about poor didums granddad being called out as an oppressive old bugger who kept grandma under his thumb all her life. In that "example", it wasn't grandma acting as a right turd who expected instant obedience at all times, or who denied granddad the right to his own money, his own property and his own job.
I actually don't want any men today to apologise for what granddad did, I want them to acknowledge it was f#cked up then, and, moving on, that they want to interact with women as equals in this day and age.
As for apologies, I think they're meaningful inasmuch they are a signal that things are going to improve. So, with apologies to Australian Aboriginals and the like, it should be about "We are sorry for the crap our previous governments visited upon your people, and the fact that today we still benefit from the genocide and forcible confiscation of your land today [because, hello, who owned all that land that those lovely ore mines are sitting on now]. Here are some things we want to do to make restitution..."
To apologise to Turing would be odd - he's dead, duh - and to gay men who were persecuted at the time. So they were, and while prejudice exists still in the UK, it's more at the individual rather than the institutional level. So an apology wouldn't not really be a signal of restitution - the hard work's been done already with the law changes since the late 60s.
I have to agree that jokes can be excessive. You have to judge what each individual is able to take on a case by case basis. You don't make potentially offensive jokes to someone you barely know, but as you get to know someone you also learn how far you can take it.
It works the other way around for comedians, you have to judge from their style and reputation whether you will give them any attention. There are still lines that shouldn't really be crossed however. You don't want to tell black people to "f*ck off back where you came from", so equally you don't really want to be too bad about gay people. The question is are you having a laugh at their expense, or are you just downright insulting them?
As to stereotypes, do you really think all gay men walk like Mr Humphreys? It's hard to change stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is they don't exist nearly as much as people think. Anyone that thinks all gay men do in fact walk like that need psychiatric attention, or at least extreme reeducation.
I remember in the 1980s a number of cases taken by Black firefighters for bullying and harassement in the workplace. Their white colleagues said 'they can't take ajoke', but the Black firefighters felt that to have to suck up 'Sambo' and the like wasn't being asked to be a good sport, but to accept slurs and insults. The point of the jokes was to make them feel shit.
I am all for witty banter, but fail to understand how making slurs against others -- their fat, their girl-friendlessness, their bad sight, their age, their colour -- is either funny or acceptable. I work in a very firm 'diversity' environment and we are having a good laugh all the time without any personal jibes being made. 'Just having a laugh' and 'give and take' are always words that come up when there is actual personal attacks going on, however subtly.
I find most IT humour a constant and wearying stream of men jockeying for social hierarchy positions and the endless reinforcing of that status, especially the ones lower down. I want to stand up sometimes and yell 'chaps, you aren't chimpanzees any more, get over it', but IT, where skill and brains counts for more than brawn and strength, is often the palce where the scramble for preeminence is often worse, at least in my experience, than where old-fashioned 'manliness' rules. More to prove? A less glamorous arena? I don't know.
As for creating a diverse workplace, I don't hold with quotas, as I think merit should win out. But so much hiring is done on the basis, mostly unconscious, of hiring the 'face that fits'. And so often that means 'a face like mine' and that so often is a white heterosexual male. To have a rigorous review of how people are hired to check whether these unspoken factors are carrying too much weight is always useful. I don't know why women, people of colour, the disabled, the older, etc. should have to grow thick hides. If the white straight males never change, then nothing ever changes. They shouldn't have to gird their loins before walking into work every day.
But of course to ask white straight males to change is to have them screaming on the ramparts about how oppressed they are. And who could blame them? When you own the world, why would you give any of it up?
This one goes in the same bin as the hullaballoo over the last veteran of the trenches to die. It's old, tired history and it does us no good to rake over the ashes of events that we can't go back and change any more. Gordon Brown wasn't PM when this happened (was he even at school?) so why should he have to apologise for this? Also, homosexuality is now a well accepted lifestyle choice, so I don't see what there is to be gained by this.
To use the analogy above, it's rather like the relatives of Earl Haig or some of the other Great War commanders apologising to the gandchildren of the soldiers slaughtered because of their mistakes. It may make a few people feel better, but ultimately it's pointless.
Dearest moderator, I apologize for being a white heterosexual male who finds Bernard Manning's jokes very funny but if I reword my censored comment will you let it through.
>granddad being called out as an oppressive old bugger
To paraphrase Blackadder, better that than an oppressive old buggerer.
You may like to consider that the emphasis put on his homosexuality is/was a colossal red herring to hide the discoveries he may have made and conveyed regarding what can be done with/in Artificial Intelligence ..... and which some may have preferred to remain secret/exclusive.
"He didn't commit suicide, he was assassinated. One of my lecturers told me that, then very quickly retracted his statement, a moment that's always stayed with me." ..... By Jamie Kitson Posted Tuesday 18th August 2009 15:05 GMT ...... An earlier Dr. David Kelly? Both world leading experts in their fields and working field operations which would nowadays be called "black".
"Wheres amanfrommars? He's perfect for this topic due to the inability to pass the turing test!" .... By David Webb Posted Tuesday 18th August 2009 15:37 GMT.
David, that does not make sense. And are there any Turing papers which have been sealed and would explain his persecution, for AI and Networks InterNetworking Java Applications are discovering/have discoverd more that just a few Astute Keys for Absolute Control? And QuITe Perfect would they be for the yet to be established AIry Fairy Invention of the OCS and CSOC ..."To address the UK’s cyber security challenges, the Government will ..... Set up an Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to provide strategic leadership for and coherence across Government;
Create a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) to:
−− actively monitor the health of cyber space and co-ordinate incident response;
−− enable better understanding of attacks against UK networks and users;
−− provide better advice and information about the risks to business and the public." .... which is just a few of the items on the governments wishlist as pimped in the publication "Cyber Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, safety, security and resilience in cyber space." ..Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister, by Command of Her Majesty, June 2009.
Can anyone provide a lead name in the field [in the Cabinet Office] and an mail address, which might actually bother itself to reply, even with just an acknowledgement of receipt of emails, although I do realise that is most unusual for the present incumbents and their systems which would seem to be geared for plausible deniability of contact for maximum phishability? A tired old ploy which only works for a short time.
Although one would expect those who provide Intelligence and Intelligence Threat Estimates/Guesses to Governments to be more involved/tuned in and better equipped to make use of new sensitive and virtual tools. I wonder what they would make of this thread and post in their Joint Analysis Centres and Joint Intelligence Committees. Whenever the answer to that is nothing, then does the Private/Pirate Sector deliver and take over IntelAIgent Server Provision at an undisclosed cost to the Single Intelligence Account. Although whenever you Control Intelligence is any Expense, an Enabling Asset and Treasury Golden Goose.
I dont think Turing gives two tugs of dead dogs cock given that he is 6' under. This here apologising for stuff that others long gone did to others equally long gone seems to be more about making people of today feel better about themselves by absolving themselves of guilt that was never theirs to absolve anyway.
I think apologising for stuff such as this, slavery etc only serves to help erase such guilty stains from our collective memories and thereby removes one of the more effective drivers for learning from the our ancestoral mistakes
Instead on apologising all the time how about we just concentrate on not doing it again and if realistic stopping others from making the same errors of judgment.
Alan M. Turing was one of the heroes of my early training. The first machine design I produced for my industrial computer systems was called the AMT. An auxiliary multiplexing unit was called the CB after Charles Babbage.
Another of my fascinations was Kurt Gödel. When I understood that his group paper was mappable to the Turing stopping problem, I was confirmed in the understanding that this was fundamental work. Something which helped to delineate the limits of our human intellect.
Consequently I am in complete support of this petition campaign to restore the reputation of this giant of human understanding, not only as a machine designer but preeminently as an elucidator of the human intellect and consequently of our phenomenal universe as we experience it. The law under which he was suppressed and denigrated is now anathema, and his name should be both cleared and elevated.
Gavin G. Stairs
"No, men should be *doing something about* the *continued* screwed-up gender inequalities still going on today,"
Why is it up to men? Can't the women sort it out for themselves?
While you're at it, make a start sorting out the severe inequalities in female representation in the sewers, road gangs, other assorted unpleasant jobs, and the relative pay of male and female models.
And then there was the possibility of him being vulnerable to blackmail. There was good reason to withdraw his security clearance, and the "outing" was necessary to negate any possible blackmail in future, I suppose (after all, they could so easily have kept it quiet). After his "treatment" he might have been let back in, but it seems there was too much paranoia at the time. To give him a pardon would be grossly unfair to everyone else, and would miss the point of his "outing" -- do we really want to dumb down to that level?