back to article UK parliament presses for pardon for Alan Turing

Members of the UK House of Lords have debated a motion to grant a full Parliamentary pardon to Alan Turing, the Second World War savant whose code-breaking skills did so much to ensure the Allied victory. Turing was one of the key figures who worked at the Bletchley Park cryptanalysis center during the war, decoding German …


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  1. JP19

    "It is not too late for the government to pardon"

    He has been dead for the last 59 years so yes it is too late - effing morons.

    It is never too late to play the politically correct game grasping at an opportunity to demonstrating how much more caring, thoughtful, and tolerant you are than your predecessors of 61 years ago. They are also all dead - not much competition there.

    1. LarsG

      Realistically, making apologies for what had been done in the distant past, years ago is symptomatic of the age we live in.

      Let's apologise for........

      Let's apologise for slavery

      Let's apologise for crimes in the past that are no longer crimes

      Let's apologise for Nagasaki and Hiroshima

      Let's apologise for the British Empire

      Let's apologise for the Aboriginies

      Let's apologise for the American Indians

      Let's Apologise for the bombing of Dresden

      Let's, let's, let's.......

      Instead of this faux apology thing how about we look back on History discuss what was done, understand why these things happened and that they were 'incidents, acts and products of their time' then celebrate that we have come a long way since. Apologising for the distant past serves no purpose.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        So we should never apologise for or fix anything? How about to the people who are still alive with criminal records due to this 'law'. Turing was just one man convicted. There are more that are still alive. I agree it shouldn't be an exercise in 'white guilt' but we shouldn't leave people living with a criminal conviction for this.

        How about we do something constructive like look at how we deal with repealing laws and part of that could include the automatic exoneration under certain circumstances?

        1. Steve Crook

          You've just made the point.

          If they're going to do it properly, then they ought to pardon *everyone* that was convicted of the same offence, going back to whenever it was made an offence.

          Otherwise, what they're saying is that it was wrong to be homosexual unless you were a war hero, and this 'gesture' just looks like political posturing, which it is...

          1. auburnman

            Re: You've just made the point.

            "If they're going to do it properly, then they ought to pardon *everyone* that was convicted of the same offence, going back to whenever it was made an offence."

            While I agree with the spirit of that idea, is it really that cut and dried? That assumes everyone convicted of gross indecency was a persecuted homosexual. Surely flashers and other genuine criminals would have been prosecuted under the same indecency laws.

            Personally I'd much rather politicians leave it alone than use it for cheap heat. And I don't think we should be 'tidying up' our history with pardons. Maybe it's better to have an example that reminds us that the law CAN be wrong.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: You've just made the point.

              I strongly believe that no-one can apologise for someone else. It makes no sense: it is completely meaningless.

              I tend towards the attitude that we should say "<insert person or body> was wrong", but leave everything else to stand as evidence that wrong things were done, and then work to ensure the wrong thing doesn't happen again. Apologising for and to dead people is just false humility.

              1. Ed_UK

                Re: You've just made the point.

                ** Going slightly off-topic!

                "I strongly believe that no-one can apologise for someone else. It makes no sense: it is completely meaningless."

                Fully agree, but isn't that the basis of Christianity? Vicarious redemption via a human sacrifice*. Seems pretty immoral to me, not to mention pointless.

                *Anyway, didn't he get better afterwards, making the sacrifice null and void?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't have a problem with apologising for these terrible events, but everything you have listed are events that affected large groups of people and the people affected, or their survivors, are those apologised to. In this case it seems that Alan Turing's suffering was somehow different to all the others who suffered the same treatment and I object to that. A human life hounded to suicide is still a human life, no matter how much contribution made to the country.

        An apology for all, or an apology to no-one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          His suicide is contested by many. Have a read about it.

      3. Fink-Nottle

        You're missing the point. A formal apology is the logical end-point of the process where we look back on History discuss what was done, understand why these things happened and that they were 'incidents, acts and products of their time' then celebrate that we have come a long way since.

      4. Ryan 7

        Lets apologise for

        Windows ME, Vista, and 8.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Apologising for the distant past serves no purpose."

        Your mother didn't do a very good job! You've just smacked her on the face!

        Yes, let us apologise for our wrong doings. Let us learn from these mistakes, let us own them and pay for them. Let us villify those who supported them and upheld them!

        Do do otherwise highlights just how much we have NOT changed.


    2. Bob Vistakin

      Guy Fawkes too

      He was right.

      1. Richard 81

        Re: Guy Fawkes too

        Guy Fawkes? That Catholic, Spanish-loving, nutter???

        I don't think so!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Guy Fawkes too

        You mean that changing the Government by blowing up Parliament is a good idea?

        Sir John Glubb, the expert on the Middle East, once commented that the tragedy of the Arabs, the thing that had prevented them from developing a successful civilisation, was that they never found a way to change the government peacefully. People like Guy Fawkes seemed determined that the same thing should happen to us.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Guy Fawkes too

          Instead we allowed the Dutch to invade and our king ran away without fighting ?

          Certainly peaceful - but not necessarily a model for government

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Guy Fawkes too

            Running away after an invasion? Thought only those cheese eating surrender monkeys did that...

        2. Michael Dunn
          Thumb Up

          Re: Guy Fawkes too

          My respects to Glubb Pasha!

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Michael Dunn Re: Guy Fawkes too

            "My respects to Glubb Pasha!" Old Glubb certainly had an insight into the Arab psyche, but it didn't stop him hawking his services training and commanding the Arab Legion for such "respectable" events as the Kfar Etzion Massacre. The original attack on the Etzion Bloc was Glubb's decision, and he must have had few doubts as to what Arab irregulars would do to any Jews that surrendered, yet he issued no orders to his Arab Legion troops to protect those that did surrender, probably because he rightly predicted the impact of any massacre on the resolve of the other kibbutzes in the strategically-important Etzion Bloc.

  2. JimmyPage

    Turing is a national hero ... but I don't agree

    This is a cynical attempt to airbrush the repressive nature of the state out of history.

    Let his conviction stand as a reminder to an age when we were less tolerant. Otherwise we might start to believe we've solved everything now ....

    1. Rukario
      IT Angle

      Re: Turing is a national hero ... but I don't agree

      I agree with you here. We need these reminders of how the state used to be, so we can hopefully avoid a return to such repressive days.

      If anything, call the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 "Turing's Law".

      (I'm sure we can find an IT angle to relate it to the workings of the machine of the state.)

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Turing is a national hero ... but I don't agree

        "a return to such repressive days"

        What RETURN are you talking about?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Turing is a national hero ... but I don't agree

      I agree with your sentiment about the PR value of this, hence it being a pardon for one person and not an exoneration for everyone convicted.

      It does however bring up an interesting point, should we not do it just because their motives are questionable (if that were the case they would never do anything, oh wait... ). I think that it would be a priority to consider those people living with a criminal conviction for an unjust law. If their action redressed that then I think it would be less of a token gesture.

    3. Andy Fletcher

      Re: Turing is a national hero ... but I don't agree

      @ JimmyPage Completely agree. Doing this so we can feel better about ourselves is an insult to the victim.

  3. Fazal Majid

    Quash it, don't pardon it

    A pardon implies admission of guilt by the pardoned. Turing did nothing wrong to begin with, it's the law itself which was wrong. A pardon would semi-legitimize the law by implication. In France, for instance, Captain Dreyfus was pardoned in 1899 as a matter of expediency to free him from prison, until his conviction could be quashed in 1906. Accepting the pardon implied admission of guilt, and he only did it because he was exhausted by 4 years of hard labor. In the case of Turing, there is no such practical or humanitarian consideration, and thus the principled thing to do is to wait until the conviction itself is overturned.

    The proper course of action would be to abrogate the law he was convicted under, with retroactive effect, and cancel his conviction. Not sure how that would work in UK law, in the US the law would be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and any convictions under it vacated.

    1. Getriebe

      Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

      @Fazal, nicely put.

      And why this should go ahead for Turing:

      Steven Pinker, a Harvard professor and popular science author, wrote in one of his books:"It would be an exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing explained the nature of logical and mathematical reasoning, invented the digital computer, solved the mind-body problem, and saved Western civilization.

      "But it would not be much of an exaggeration."

    2. Heathroi

      Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

      Not at all. in the famous, in New Zealand, case of Arthur Allan Thomas, he was pardoned after it was made abundantly clear the police had fitted him up. Its an apology by the state as in ' I beg your pardon, sorry for detaining you' which is why it's so difficult to get one out of the government.

      In this example, the crown could reopen the case, find parts of Turings statement inadmissable as evidence overturning the case.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

      Fully agreed with Mr. Majid on his reasoning. I would also add, instead of a "pardon" to someone important who has been dead for half a century, what about we take a look at what we are still doing wrong right now, so we can prevent further suffering and yet more "pardons" down the line. Or are we stupid enough to believe we are already perfect as a society? As they did fifty years ago.

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

      "A pardon implies admission of guilt by the pardoned....." But Turing WAS guilty of the crime as the law stood then.

      "..... A pardon would semi-legitimize the law by implication...." The law was completely legitimate at the time.

      ".....The proper course of action would be to abrogate the law he was convicted under, with retroactive effect, and cancel his conviction....." No it would not be as you would then have all the people convicted under laws that have changed since trying to get unconvicted. Where do you stop? For example, I got a parking ticket back in the '80s, the parking laws have changed, can I demand my "conviction" is quashed and my fine returned? Which brings up the other big and hidden point - if Turing's conviction is quashed then so too will have be that of many others, some of them still alive, and the question of restitution will arise. Sorry, but if you break the law of the day (and remember, these men did it knowing they were breaking the law) then tough.

      In Turing's case I agree it is harsh given his wartime service, but if we want to go back through history "righting wrongs" and stumping up cash, you'll have bankrupted the nation before we even get round to the "witches" burned at the stake! Instead, focus on looking forward and improving the World we live in today.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

        We already did by quashing all the WWI shell-chock victims executed for cowardice.

        For some reason the government seemed to think WWI veterans played better to the Daily Mail crowd that dirty filthy mathematicians.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

        Today is one of those wonderful days when I can agree with Matt!

        Have a tipple, old boy (over there, somewhere ---------->>>)

      3. PatientOne

        Re: Quash it, don't pardon it

        Agree that we should learn from the past to fix the future.

        Just one minor point though: 'before we even get round to the "witches" burned at the stake!'

        In England, and New England for that matter, witches were hung, not burned. Scotland burned witches, as did other parts of Europe, although this generally referred to the burning of their bodies after they were executed. Spain and Italy were the only countries known to practice 'burning at the stake', thanks to the Inquisition, and it is from here that the myth of 'burning witches' came from.

  4. Don Jefe

    Hollywood Pressure

    They've got to do something now that there's a Turing biopic coming out with big names attached to it. They don't really care about Turing's name, they just want to be able to refute the film and play politically correct games.

    It's called The Imitation Game and has Sherlock Holmes and that really skinny lady pirate in it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hollywood Pressure

      there's a Turing biopic coming out

      Please, no. Is nothing sacred?

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: Hollywood Pressure

        Went to IMDB to take a look, and according to them, Leonardo Di Caprio was originally going to play Turing...

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Hollywood Pressure

      They've got to do something now that there's a Turing biopic coming out with big names attached to it.

      Why "now"? Was Breaking the Code not biopic enough for you? Did it not have big enough names?

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Hollywood Pressure

        Never heard of it...

        I haven't been to the movies in five years but I've heard of the new movie coming out. If I stumbled upon it you can be sure others have as well.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Hollywood Pressure

          Breaking The Code is a great piece of theatre and although based on Turing's life is a bit fictionalised - certainly names are changed and some events created or slightly changed for the theatre - although the spirit of Turing's life is there, I think Hugh Whitemore puts his own thoughts into Turing's mouth too sometimes (of course true of any theatrical production!). It will be interesting to see how authentic the new film will be.

    3. Maharg

      Re: Hollywood Pressure

      Whenever I hear of Hollywood doing something like this I am reminded of the Film ‘Churchill, The Hollywood years’ where Christian Slater plays Winston Churchill, as an American GI with a cigar and Tommy Gun, with his love of ‘Irish Cockneys’, and a character called ‘Jim Jim Charoo’ who lives on Ye Old Dick Van Dyke Street pretty much hit the nail on the head with its take on Hollywood American audience pandering and historical inaccuracies, Unfortunately the film is not as good as the idea.

  5. Rampant Spaniel

    He and everyone, dead or alive, convicted under section 11 for homosexual activity needs a full exoneration and apology.

    The law was wrong, it was repealed because it was wrong, so why are the convictions valid? This would take next to no time to remedy, just do it. How can we hold ourselves up to the rest of the world as paragons of human rights and criticize other countries when we have people with a criminal record because of where they like to park their bike.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Liberal left leaning sandal wearing tree hugging apologist.

      Yes crimes that were are no longer crimes, but they were then and they were a product of the times.

      Instead of trying to airbrush the crimes out we was should look on it as a discussion point and understand how far we have come from those days. They are important historical lessons that did happen. If you want to shed a few fake tears then so be it.

      Next thing will be that someone will apologise for the executions of all convicted murderers since the begining of time or the Italians can aplogise for the Roman Empire.

      An apology for this kind of thing only strokes the ego of the Polititian that makes it, an example being Gordon Brown and his apology for slavery. Even though it was the UK that finally stood against it.

      By all means apologise to those still living but get a grip and look at history for what it was.

      1. Don Jefe

        Why do the right wing mouthpieces dislike sandals and trees so much. I know real right wing nutters and they wear sandals and one of them built a nice treehouse for his kids. The anti-sandal anti-tree platform seems to be a platform only found with online commenters. It is very strange.

      2. Rampant Spaniel

        I am in no way trying to airbrush history, I just believe that we should exonerate those convicted, especially those still alive. I also argued it was wrong to change the name of the dog in the remake of Dambusters, we shouldn't pretend things didn't happen, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try and make them right. Especially if there are still people affected by it alive, as there are.

        As for sandals and trees, it seems it reminds them of their leader's defeats in Africa and Russia.

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    And the rest ?

    Turing did great work during the war, but what about all the other people who were convicted under this law?

    And what about people who were convicted under other laws that were subsequently repealed?

    1. JMB

      Re: And the rest ?

      Agreed, too many talk as if he single-handedly won the war.

      He was a brilliant mathematician but so were many others at Bletchley Park. It was claimed yesterday that he built Colossus but that was the work of Tommy Flowers and others with Turing having nothing (or very little) to do it.

      Turing has roads named after him, statues but the majority of the others have little recognition and their names are unknown to most people.

      I always get the impression he has so much recognition because he was homosexual, not despite it, with a big lobby pushing for it. What will they want next?

      1. Stilted Banter

        Re: And the rest ?

        There's much in what you say. Alan Turing is in danger of being remade as a secular saint for our times (complete with martyrdom). But while history is complicated, heroes are simple, and they help us feel good about ourselves.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And the rest ?

        No, he has so much recognition because he brought together a large number of ideas that were kicking around in the 1930s, developed the theory and turned it into practical technology just when it was needed. Turing's Bombe demonstrated that automation could be applied to a mathematical problem, and the Turing Machine demonstrated that in principle such machines could be built for general purpose computing. Everything since then has basically been a commentary on or development of Turing's work. The change, first from relays, then to valves, then to germanium transistors, then to silicon transistors and finally to CMOS, merely reflects progress in electronics. Flowers saw that relays could be replaced by valves and worked hard to promote it - but without Turing's work, there would have been nothing to improve.

        Newton may have been gay or asexual, but that isn't why he got so much recognition. Same with Turing.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Turing needs no pardon.

    The British .gov, on the other hand?

    There is no excuse for what they did. Idiots.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Turing needs no pardon.

      The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. At the time, homosexual acts were illegal in many countries (including the USA). There are many where they remain illegal. If you want to do something useful, campaign against those laws, not some perceived historical injustice.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Turing needs no pardon.

        Why not do both?

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Turing needs no pardon.

          Because one has some purpose while the other has no meaning (except to make you feel better about yourself).

          1. returnmyjedi

            By pardoning him it has made Turing a news story and thus increased the great unwasheds awareness of him, which for me makes it worthwhile even if it's just a debate.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Turing needs no pardon.

          > Why not do both?

          That's the kind of reasoning that got people like Turing convicted in the first place.

  8. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    If he needs a pardon, implying the conviction was wrongly made, then his prosecutors should surely be posthumously convicted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Adrian 4 - then his prosecutors should surely be posthumously convicted.

      Given the way that the UK lost its lead in computing to the Americans, they (and many Civil Servants involved in the postwar foulup) certainly deserved to be sacked.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Adrian 4

      "If he needs a pardon, implying the conviction was wrongly made, then his prosecutors should surely be posthumously convicted." You are misunderstanding the concept of a pardon. His conviction is not being quashed or overturned so he still remains guilty of the crime, all the pardon bit does is say the State forgives him for his criminal act. If you are still alive and pardoned then the rest of your punishment still to be served, such as jailtime or a fine, is waived, which is pointless seeing as Turing has not only served his sentence but also died.

  9. Velv

    Guilty in the eyes of ...

    Let us not forget that there are a substantial number of people in the UK who still believe homosexuality is a crime.

    Should we or shouldn't we pardon or quash convictions for things that were the law at the time? What was done was done for whatever reasons were considered right at the time. Will a pardon/quash make any difference?

    The answer is irrelevant - the important thing is for us to talk about what is right now and in the future (and not just in reference to homosexuality, but to many of the laws we uphold TODAY).

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Guilty in the eyes of ...

      "there are a substantial number of people in the UK who still believe homosexuality is a crime" - are there? There may well be a significant minority who believe it to be immoral - many of the same people would say that any sex outside marriage is immoral - but that doesn't mean they think it is (or should be) a crime.

  10. Ideala2

    I changed my mind

    I was initially in the "of course we bloody well should" camp when I first heard about this, but commenters on past articles convinced me otherwise.

    I'd like to know if a pardon is legally equal to "you were wrongly convicted" or to "it's okay you broke the law, we'll let you off"?

    Neither is appropriate as the first is revisionist - Turing broke the law of the time, and he admitted to being a homosexual. The conviction was therefore entirely legal and correct.

    The latter allows someone who is clever / famous / politically of the moment / did some good stuff to get around the law. Turing will not benefit, but it's a cynical ploy and sets a terrible precedent.

    it's not the same, I know, but if Jessica Ennis, or a medal winning soldier commit a crime today, should we or a.future government grant them a pardon or immunity?

    Instead, I believe strongly that the conviction should stand as a poignant reminder that as a brilliant man was treated horribly and driven to suicide by the nation, and a government just because he was gay... despite working to fight for his country, and against genocide.

    That many people, less well known but equally important in their own right, suffered similarly. That there existed such a terrible law in living memory.

    Hopefully it won't rise again, and we will fight against similar laws elsewhere.

    The best course would surely to be to declare all convictions spent if they aren't already, and to allow survivors to wipe their records of the conviction (if it still shows up), so that it no longer affects them.

    Also a cross party / parliamentary commitment to repeal discriminating legislation and prevent any future such laws being passed.

    We unfortunately don't have a constitution into which that can be set in stone, but at least they promised...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I changed my mind

      Exactly. Turing's persecution and death remind me of Archimedes' murder by a Roman soldier who had no patience with his geometric drawings and saw only a disobedient civilian. Or indeed Socrates' execution by the Athenian demos, which saw his best work on their behalf as a capital crime. People like that are never understood, and tolerated only if they remain safely obscure.

  11. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Nothing better to do?

    Turing's life spoke for itself, and always will. He needs no vindication.

    But surely government has more pressing issues?

  12. John Savard Silver badge

    The Right Idea

    ...but they're not going far enough. Yes, it was an offence against the laws of the time, but those laws were wrong and evil, in the same way that Negro slavery was evil. So all those convicted should be pardoned.

    But that will not do them much good. There are other things that will benefit real victims of historical injustice. For example, the U.K. can return all the churches that were built prior to 1534 to their rightful owner, the Roman Catholic Church, since interfering with religion is forbidden to governments through the eternal law of God, as revealed in the first of the Ten Amendments.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: The Right Idea

      "in the same way that Negro slavery was evil."

      Only Negro slavery?

      Signed: jake ... who isn't a Caucasian.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: The Right Idea

      @ John Savard: I think there are some heavy doses of irony/sarcasm in there, but I'm not sure.

      @jake: this is a strange day - agreeing with both you and Matt ... :-)

  13. Florida1920

    The whole truth

    It would be more enlightening and interesting to go back and look into the private lives of the people who facilitated Turing's persecution-unto-death. The best way to head off would-be witch hunters may be to let them know the fate that could await them down the road.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Florida1920 Re: The whole truth

      "It would be more enlightening and interesting to go back and look into the private lives of the people who facilitated Turing's persecution-unto-death....." Sorry, but it looks highly possible that was a myth. Turing's security clearance was quite rightly and legally revoked under the laws and security rules of the day. Turing accepted his charges and then went on with his life. It then seems he accidentally killed himself mucking about with potassium cyanide as part of a chemistry hobby ( SInce then, of course, he has become too much of a gay political icon and the suicide story simply fits that purpose so much better.

      1. Equitas

        Re: Florida1920 The whole truth

        It's very true that much of what's written on this subject is rubbish.

        Yes, Turing was brilliant and a foundational figure in the development of computer science.

        Yes, Turing was working during the war and thereafter on matters which related to national security.

        Yes Turing was a practising homosexual.

        But there's where most of what's being written goes off the rails.

        * Turing was knowingly breaking the law of the time and therefore taking a risk. The fact that he was taking a risk with his sexual partners would have been equally real had he been heterosexual and associating with known prostitutes or others who might be a risk to his security clearance.

        * At least on Turing's homosexual partners was a burglar

        * Turing himself called the police in to act against his burglar partner

        * Turing was given the choice of a nominal one-year prison sentence or a one year chemical castration. He chose a year of chemical castration. He was presumably intelligent enough to know or at least ascertain the probable short-term effects and the probability of any of these remaining after treatment stopped

        * Turing's death was a considerable time after the end of his treatment

        * Although the official verdict was suicide there is very considerable doubt as to whether it was actually so -- he was certainly known to be very careless about his use of poisons.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Equitas (was: Re: Florida1920 The whole truth)

          "Turing's death was a considerable time after the end of his treatment"

          "Treatment" for ... what, exactly? Do you really have zero clues?

          I'm heterosexual, and happily married to my wife & best friend. Our favorite neighbors are a couple of gay guys who managed to get married before the prop-8 bullshit ... People are people, all that matters is love & friendship.

          Allowing British policy against GLBT folks back then to be "OK" is roughly the same as allowing German policy against GLBT folks in the early 1940s to be OK ... Seriously. Think about it.

          1. Bernard M. Orwell

            Re: @Equitas (was: Florida1920 The whole truth)

            But... Turing is dead. The people who investigated him are dead. The people who wrote and implemented those laws are dead. Everyone involved is (probably) dead.

            Are we REALLY going to dig up corpses and try them under the laws of today (metaphorically speaking, that is)?

            Are we going to dig up Henry VIII and try him for murder and polygamy? Will *I* be dug up in a couple of centuries from now and tried for posting freely on a public forum without state approval ('cos that is going to be a crime one day , surely!)

            Just how far is our "retrospective" law going to carry on extending?

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Jake Re: @Equitas (was: Florida1920 The whole truth)

            "....Do you really have zero clues?....." Jake, you are simply falling into the simpleminded trap of the gay-rights crowd - "If you disagree with our policy on X then you MUST be a homophobe!" Please chillax and realize not everyone that disagrees with a particular point of view is doing so out of some awful intent. I agree that Turing was prosecuted under a law that we should nowadays hold up for ridicule, and the treatment that Turing underwent could not have been pleasant, but I do not agree with a retrospective wiping of all previous convictions under that law as where do you stop? Turing should get a pardon for his services to the country, which can be held up as an example of how a man could be a genius and a patriot despite the narrow viewpoint of others.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Florida1920 The whole truth

        It then seems he accidentally killed himself mucking about with potassium cyanide as part of a chemistry hobby

        He "accidentally" drank 4 fluid ounces* (almost a quarter pint) of cyanide? Hell of an 'oops' moment there.

        *The coroner's report is on display in the Science Museum, it is quite precise.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    How Turing would laugh if he could know about this.

    The cream of the joke is that, while it pompously apologizes for the evil deeds of past governments, our ruling class goes on doing unspeakably wicked things for which others will have to apologize in the future.





    ... and soon Libya and Iran.

    Oh yes, we have to flatten those countries and destroy their people - to thwart the dreadful terrorists. Just as, in Turing's time, we had to stamp hard on homosexuals to prevent the nation's moral fibre from being damaged.

    What fools these mortals be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


      "... and soon Libya and Iran."

      Doh! I meant, of course, "...and soon Syria and Iran".

      Moral: don't write comments before your first cup of coffee. (Although it is easy to lose track of the countries that our enlightened liberal well-meaning rulers have destroyed).

  15. Anonymous Cowerd

    Tommy Flowers

    Turing is rightly recognised for his work.

    It's a pity Tommy Flowers never got the same reognition.

  16. Tony Green

    It needs to go beyond Turing

    Turing's persecution was just one example of many thousands of men persecuted for being gay. Some of the men with similar convictions are still alive and in many cases they're still on the sex-offenders' register.

    All of these men need to have their convictions rescinded (not pardoned) and their names properly cleared.

  17. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I love the way that people seem to think that we have things 'right' today.

    Society moves in fads and fashions. Homosexuality was seen as wrong and unacceptable in the 1950s.

    Now it's seen as normal, and there is a push to remove all the earlier convictions.

    When it becomes wrong and unacceptable again in 2250, are we going to put all the convictions back?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a pardon, he did nothing wrong.

    They should apologise to him and all others, who were wronged.

  19. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: praos

      "After so many deaths the gays effected by spreading AIDS it's high time to recriminalize homosexuality." Was that an attempt at humour or just really poor baiting? If you really believe AIDS was restricted to gays, or spread only through gay sex, then you are probably not only incredibly ill-informed but also probably at risk should you ever find an equally stupid partner willing to have sex with you. All it takes is one mistake in that person's history - straight or gay - and you can get AIDS. There is even the tragic irony of lesbian model Gia Carangi's death from AIDS. I would suggest you get a clue before you become a Darwin nominee.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: praos

        I didn't see the comment, but I'm surprised it took so long. There are still some frothing loons out there that think HIV is somehow a "gay man disease" and that it is punishment from "God" (the sadistic construct from the book of older desert-dweller fairy tales).

        Thanks, Matt, for saying what I would if I'd been here earlier.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: praos

          Matt gets my upvote for his reply too! :D

  20. Allonymous Coward

    The bit I'll find sickening

    Feels like this has reasonable odds of being passed. There doesn't seem to be much political downside. And on the upside it's a great opportunity for our Elected Reps to appear liberal and forward-thinking, yet at the same time grave and dismayed over past injustices.

    Picture, if you will, a press conference fronted by a contrite-looking yet oh-so-liberal $senior_politician taking all the credit for righting such a shameful, shocking (shocking, I tell you!) injustice. We may not have got it right in the past, but your Government is so much more caring in these enlightened times. Honestly.

    [Pulls out hanky, wipes away crocodile tears. Blows nose.]

    Then picture, if you will, the "technology press" (by which I mean the "technology" press such as Rory Cellan-Jones) lapping this all up.

    Now please excuse me. I feel a sudden need to go punch a wall or something.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some of these comments demonstrate just how badly our education system and our parents have FAILED you!

    I would prefer to line in a country where I am surrounded by sane decent folk, not these ugly evil bastards.

  22. Michael Dunn

    Pardons and pardons!

    On a totally different subject, but very pertinent to this business of old laws being repealed or whatever.

    1 I think no one nowadays pays a five-shilling fine for not attending an Anglican service on Sunday - come on George, you could clear Britain's debt by retroactively collecting all that money.

    2 When I was a boy, brought up Catholic, it was a mortal sin to attend a service in any other church than a RC church - if you had a relatrive's wedding or funeral to attend, you had to get a special dispensation from the Bishop. If you died in an accident on the way home from attending an un-dispensated service, you would, of course, have died in a state of mortal sin and gone straight to Hell!

    I did not actually remain a Catholic, and spent some years after my retirement from full-time work singing in a choir at Manchester Cathedral (CofE).

    Lo and behold, some of the services we then sang at were concelebrations of the Eucharist with the Bishop of Manchester (CofE) and the Bishop of Salford (RC) presiding! (I must mention that the Bishop of Salford used to bring his own consecrated bread with him, since the Catholics still have some reservations about whether CofE clergy are able to work the Transubstantion.) But the congregation were invited to take Communion, and it did not seem to matter which officiate they went to!

    Not only that but a year or so ago, there was Pope Benedict XVI with the Archbishop of Canterbury joining in a service in Westminster Abbey - a church long Catholic but changed hands during the Reformation.

    Now, are all the poor Catholics suffering in Hell for having entered churches or taken part in services of other denominations to be released from Hell? What they did is no longer a sin, so should they be punished while Johnny-come-lately Catholics are free to attend services in other churches?

    What about Catholics who might attend a teaching from the Dalai Lama? Is that still anathema?

    Is Armageddon upon us?

  23. colin cuddehay


    How about adding a little AJAX to the Register web site code so that voting doesn't take forever !

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