back to article Pistol fired on Olympic honour campaign for Turing

The campaigner who led a successful effort last year to secure a public apology for the UK government's mistreatment of Alan Turing is calling for recognition of the celebrated cryptographer during the 2012 London Olympics. Turing's work as a code-breaker in Bletchley Park during the war and in establishing the foundations for …


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  1. Olafthemighty

    I'll drink to that!

    Quite possibly the first sensible Olympics-related suggestion I've heard.

  2. Peter 4

    Pistol fired on Olympic honour campaign

    Don't you think we have rather too much pistols being fired in East London these days?


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I get very tired of all the lobbying about Turing, there were many other people working at Bletchley Park during WWII and many were as brilliant as Turing but the impression is given by some that he solved the German codes single-handed.

    1. Euchrid

      re: Turing

      One might also say that some give the inaccurate impression that Turing's professional work only revolved around Bletchley Park.

  4. Demosthenese


    I'm not seeing a strong connection here between Turing and the Olympics that would justify him being honored in this way.

    1. Charles Manning

      The connection

      Turing was a bloody good long distance runner.

  5. bexley

    oh my god i am so tired of hearing about the bloody Olympics

    It's not distracting me from the real shitty problems we have in this country you know ! <wave fist>

    *what they did to that homosexual chap was horrible but come on, they said sorry

  6. Neoc

    I am against it.

    Don't get me wrong - Turing was a great man in the IT field, and what happened over his lifestyle is a disgrace. However, he had *nothing* to do with the Olympics - he didn't even qualify when he tried out. Even the Greeks (mentioned in the article) named their stadium after an *Olympian*.

    So no, Turing should *not* be honoured / remembered / whatever at the Olympics.

  7. Charles Manning


    Surely this is wrong. Either pardon all gays or none of em.

    Singling out Turing for a pardon says that it is OK to have persecuted gays, but Turing should be given special treatment for his war effort.

    1. Euchrid

      re: Bollocks

      Err, Turing didn't receive a pardon - not that the story even suggested it.

      Gordon Brown did make a public apology over Turing's treatment, but there was no pardon.

  8. Dave 62

    I think this is a good idea...

    Turing was an accomplished marathon runner.. narrowly missed being selected for Olympics.. despite being a kick-ass mathematician. Also, centenary. Connection made, thankyouverymuch.

    Turing may not have been the only codebreaker at BP but he was the only one to be a good marathon runner, possibly the only one who was born in 1912 and probably the only one to be persecuted and driven to suicide by the country he saved.

    Lets not try to sweep it under the carpet, he was a great man, the fact that we did him wrong doesn't make him any less of a great man.

  9. Steven Jones


    I think the whole even should be named the Fred Godwin games to remind everybody of just how much money the whole thing is costing the public purse and how some will profit from it whilst pushing us down the route to national bankruptcy.

  10. BoldMan

    Gov't Apologies

    I find it sadly ironic that Gordy seems happy to jump at the chance to apologies for things in the past that have nothing to do with him or the current Gov't, eg Turing, slavery etc etc but seems incapable of apologising for things he screwed up!

  11. Sean Timarco Baggaley
    Thumb Down

    Turing was a member of a team.

    "Team" being the operative word. Wither Welchman and Keen, for example? (Turing didn't design the Bombe from scratch: it was derived from an older, Polish device, called the "bomba". And Turing only designed a few bits of it.)

    Some people seem to think Turing invented the entire IT industry single-handed. His homosexuality is also something many have latched onto—yet nobody has insisted on a formal, government-led "apology" to Oscar Wilde.

    Turing was one of *many* pioneers who built the modern ICT industry, but he wasn't perfect. His "Turing Test" is pathetically anthropocentric and utterly useless as a measure of intelligence, artificial or otherwise.

    There's also something to be said for the possibility that Turing's overly math-centric approach to computing has done almost as much harm as good to the IT industry: Hardware has progressed in leaps and bounds, but software development tools have barely changed since the late 1960s. We're still using operating systems based on early '70s designs, but we're running them on computers many orders of magnitude more powerful and complex than their 1970s counterparts. This is not healthy for the long-term future of the industry and must change.

    Turing was certainly a genius in his preferred fields, but being a pioneer is mostly a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

    Ask Richard Trevithick, who was the right person, in the right place, at the *wrong* time, and therefore died penniless after inventing the steam locomotive. (The railway as we know it today wasn't feasible until the invention of a good *wrought iron* process. Cast iron rails were too brittle.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Turing was a member of a team

      I’m not sure how many El Reg readers would fall into the category of person “thinking Turing invented the entire IT industry single-handed.” Some people might think Bill Gates is the best computer person in the world EVAH because more people use Windows, but it’s not necessary to point out why this isn’t a case in a story that mentions him but makes no such claims.

      Yes, I think most would agree that being a pioneer is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and not everyone who deserves credit gets it, but no one was disputing that were they?

      The comparison with Wilde is rather fatuous. Although Turing and Wilde were found guilty of the same offence, there was over 55 years between the court cases so it’s hardly as if these were contemporary affairs. Also, why they were charged differed somewhat – Wilde because he made a spectacularly ill-advised charge of criminal libel against the Marquis of Queensberry, Turing because he had been burgled but deemed to be the real danger.

      Additionally, I think many feel the idea of ‘curing’ homosexuality by chemical castration particularly repellent and the fact Turing was deemed to be a security risk because he was homosexual but, alas, not a Russian spy.

  12. Adam 10

    I would agree except...

    We already have the Alan Turing award, and have done for nearly 50 years! As he is noted for his computing/crypto advances first, homosexuality second and running ability third, I think that the current Turing Award is the most relevant!

    As to Brown not pardoning him... I think it would have been a sticky situation for him to pardon Turing as it is giving legitimacy to the fact that homosexuality used to be a crime, which would no doubt enrage certain people more than to let that aspect lie.

    Not to mention, is it possible to pardon someone of a crime that they committed, regardless of how ridiculous the crime appears 60 years on?

    1. Dave 62

      it is possible to pardon

      There was some talk a while back of pardoning ww1 deserters, whether or not it happened I can't remember and cba finding out, but I believe it is at least possible, even if the government refused to do so.

      It seems many deserters have been pardoned in many countries.

      Although I don't know if that was a case of "well the law was dumb" or a case of "well we bent the meaning of the law a bit to make ourselves look good"

  13. Lionel Baden

    worried about gays laws ???

    Look i think its abit silly to worry about that

    As long as we dont have hundreds of people in skin tight clothing itll be fine

    oh wait .....

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