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Alan Turing Apology Campaign Grows

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the he-only-invented-modern-computer-science dept.

Government 653

chrb writes "Several British news sources have recently reported on the growing campaign that calls for an apology to Alan Turing for his persecution by the British government. The petition to the Prime Minister was started by John Graham-Cumming, who has also written to the Queen requesting a Knighthood for Turing, but admits that a pardon is 'unlikely,' saying, 'The most important thing to me is that people hear about Alan Turing and realize his incredible impact on the modern world, and how terrible the impact of prejudice was on him.'"

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change his name (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259361)

to Frosty the Jack of Piss!

What the? (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259377)

How young do you have to be these days to assume that no one's heard of Alan Turing or his brilliant contributions and persecution?

Re:What the? (5, Insightful)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259405)

Ignorance knows no bounds of age. I'd heard of Turing before I was 10 years old, and I'm now the ripe old age of 26. Yet I know someone in his early forties who thought I was talking about "some bloke down the kebab shop"....

Re:What the? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259471)

Be lenient. He might on the other hand know Beckham's first name (frankly, I don't). Every group of people has their heroes...

Re:What the? (-1, Flamebait)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259533)

No, he's a tard..... One of the billions of people who's main function to the species and the planet as a whole is to dig ditches, answer phone lines, inhale oxygen, exhale CO2 and in general use up slightly less resources than their taxes and spending cause to be created/recycled.

Re:What the? (5, Funny)

Megane (129182) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259713)

Isn't Beckham's first name "Bendit"?

Re:What the? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259761)

Be lenient. He might on the other hand know Beckham's first name (frankly, I don't).

Victoria.

Re:What the? (1, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259415)

You don't have to be young. I know plenty of people, aged nine to ninety-nine, who have no idea who he was. This is unfortunate, given the sheer magnitude of the man's contributions to the society we now enjoy.

Re:What the? (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259451)

It's not age. Turing is fairly obscure outside of computer science. Everyone on Slashdot has heard of him, of course, but has your barber? Butcher? Regardless of their age.

He contributed a lot to computer science, but scientists don't usually get much press. He was also a war hero, and those DO sometimes get fame, but most of what he did was secret until long after the war.

Re:What the? (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259697)

You also have to realize there is a fairly sizable percentage of our population who don't know even the basics about science history or history itself. Look at the Jaywalking segments on Jay Leno (a biased sample of course) and poll the people around you. There are plenty of people who don't know what major historical figures like Eisenhower, Truman, the Roosevelts, or even Lincoln really did. I bet not one person that I work with has even heard of Alan Turing or the ENIGMA machine.

Re:What the? (5, Funny)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259747)

My barber and butcher is the same person, he just flips the apron. I am too nervous there to ask any questions :(

Re:What the? (4, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259481)

Try picking the next 20 people you see on the street and asking them who Alan Turing was. Then ask those same people who George Patton was. Then realize that Turing had about as much to do with winning WWII as Patton did.

Re:What the? (2, Insightful)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259745)

48, I guess, because I didn't know about his personal life at all. While many may be well acquainted with Turing's professional life they may not know of his personal life. Please don't make blanket assumptions that someone is aware of all aspects of any subject here; that in fact is why I subscribe to Slashdot in the first place...to find out what I *DON'T* know.

Interjection, if I may... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259395)

I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you're referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called "Linux", and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.

There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called "Linux" distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux.

just Turing? (3, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259401)

How about having the British apologize to everyone who was wronged by their hateful policies in the past?

Re:just the British? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259421)

n/t

Re:just Turing? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259477)

Is this just for famous people too? Or do you include all the nameless faces that fell because of colonization? Apologizing to certain dead people who were wronged by people who are dead. I thought they invented history for a reason.

Re:just Turing? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259521)

I thought they invented history for a reason.

To make sure you don't have to apologize for your atrocities because history is always written by the winner?

Re:just Turing? (2, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259837)

Haven't heard of revisionist history then, have you?

Re:just Turing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29260129)

To make sure you don't have to apologize for your atrocities because history is always written by the winner?

I think that it's pretty clear that *history is written* by both the winner and loser. One man's atrocity is another finding his homeland. Not that it has anything to do with any particular person. Which is the point. History is already written. All this apology does is elevate one person above all the other countless people that would also deserve apologies.

Re:just Turing? (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259487)

They'll agree, contingent on the Italian government apologizing to them for Roman treatment of the Britons.

Re:just Turing? (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260121)

Og want apology for Thag killing Og's pet mastodon.

Re:just Turing? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259491)

You mean, if you keep the parlament busy that way for the next few decades they at least won't have the time to pass any more idiotic privacy-eliminating laws?

Re:just Turing? (3, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260089)

Hey! Those privacy eliminating laws are important for being able to weed out the homo^Hcommu^Hmusli^Hdruggie^Hterrorists!

A real apology might be to name a privacy or anti-discrimination act after him. But we know that won't happen.

Re:just Turing? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259511)

Sure, why don't the British, French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese apologies for their empire-building past. The various European powers for their slave trade. The various African tribes who were already practicing slavery when the white men arrived and sold them slaves from other tribes should probably go on the list. The Mongols should probably apologise for their invasion of China too. And what about the descendants of people responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire? They definitely need to apologise!

Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born. If you want someone to apologise to Turing (or, rather, to you about Turing, because he's dead and therefore doesn't care) then why not go after the people who still persecute homosexuals. Better yet, get them to apologise to people who are still alive for things that they've actually done.

Re:just Turing? (5, Interesting)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259781)

Yeah, the hereditary guilt doesn't really make sense... on a personal level. But isn't there a legal principle of "continuity of the state" for which the (government of) England that harassed and prosecuted Alan Turing is the very same that still exists today?

Re:just Turing? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29260139)

Prescription, invented during the Roman Empire, is supposed to stop never ending guilt, while the rule "an eye for an eye" would have left the world full of blind idiots.

Re:just Turing? (0, Flamebait)

orasio (188021) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259851)

Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born.

Well, in the case of invasions, empires and stuff, goods and property were inherited, so guilt should, too.
I live in South America, descend from Basque immigrants, and I believe most of us are to blame for the extermination of the native people in my country. We are to blame, because we benefit from their land. Most Europeans are to blame, for lots of stuff that is wrong in Latin America because their current riches are inherited partly from stuff they got from the work of South American people, destroying most of their cities and culture in the process.

Re:just Turing? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259935)

Bullshit you fucking arrogant prick. Most Europeans have nothing to do with the problems you have in your shitty third world toilet. Your own leaders are to blame for the current state of affairs. If they stopped lining their own pockets and instead put money into fixing the shitholes they lord over, the crap would become less. It has dick all to do with Europe at this point.

Re:just Turing? (5, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259923)

I know there have been apologies for slavery, but it just doesn't make any sense.

As a former foreign minister of Denmark said on the issue: We do not apologize for things we haven't done, to people it wasn't done against.

Re:just Turing? (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259989)

Or, maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born.

Not only before they were born, but the times it happened in, these things were very normal and standard. I am sure that our great-grand children will have plenty to apologize about for things we think are very, very normal. So here it goes: Sorry!

Oh and all women should apologize to men for taking that apple.

Re:just Turing? (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260127)

maybe, we could get over this notion that guilt is hereditary and stop asking people to apologise for things that were done by others often before they were born.

Fantastic.

Do you want to tell the Jews they can forget that whole Holocaust thing?

Re:just Turing? (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259575)

That of course is the biggest problem with the petition. All should be treated equally under the law, so while they might call the petition under his name and as a memorial to his efforts, the petition should actually seek redress for everyone wrongfully persecuted under that legislation.

Re:just Turing? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259593)

I'd just be happy to see the British apologize for their current hateful policies.

Re:just Turing? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29260067)

Which ones?

To hell with apologies... (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259609)

... I want big $$$ compensation for what the Tories did to my Colonial ancestors! Cold hard cash in 100 Euro bills would be nice, but I'll settle for Paypal and lose that 2.9 percent if that's how it has to happen.

No (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259653)

How about having the British apologize to everyone who was wronged by their hateful policies in the past?

A dead fag is a dead fag. Let them lay.

Re:just Turing? (1)

Bloater (12932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259687)

Nobody has ever been wronged by my policies - I'm not apologising to anybody.

Just Britain? Just the past? (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259805)

Not disagreeing with you on the British policies of the past and the damage they've done. But while they're about it, they could do with saying sorry for the current damaging policies.

And while we're about that, how about all the other nations of the world do the same - I don't think any of the major players in world politics have a history that's free from disgusting episodes and damaging policies. I don't think any of the major players in world politics lack *current* policies that aren't doing harm for self-interested reasons. And I can't imagine the nations we don't hear about are any better.

No thanks (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259439)

Bluntly? Screw it.

Screw an apology and a pardon, screw knighthood and whatnot. That man had no small impact on the outcome of the breaking of German codes and thus the outcome of the war. And the thanks was to prosecute him 'cause he was gay.

If that happened to me, I'd have wanted to kill myself for helping those hypocrites. Well, maybe he did. I couldn't care less about a half-assed apology half a century after driving him to suicide (or killing him altogether, depending on your point of view).

It's a bit like the history of Joan of Arc. Very popular and welcome in times of dire straits but quickly dumped once no longer useful and deemed a "security risk".

No thanks. I know what Turing did. For himself, for science, for "us" geeks. Whether you care about him, whether you apologize, frankly, it doesn't matter.

Re:No thanks (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259517)

Whether you care about him, whether you apologize, frankly, it doesn't matter.

Right, but Turing was homosexual and you're not ... or at least all accounts and his trial for "gross indecency" indicated it. I think that historically we need to not only recognize people who were homosexual but celebrate them. An apology from the British government and/or knighthood would not only be an apology to Turing but an apology to those that were tried for the same reason. Turing isn't alone in famous figures tried for "gross indecency" with Oscar Wilde [wikipedia.org] suffering the same charge. I'm sure there's a lot more. But if you had an uncle or aunt that was tried and jailed long ago for homosexuality, you could view this apology as an apology to every British citizen who was persecuted for the way they were born.

Also, I often find myself (an American) debating people who believe that homosexuality is a choice. Alan Turing is a great counterexample. Why would you "choose" to be gay if it meant this kind of punishment and drove you to take your life? And it's not like he was illogical, he's one of the greatest recent logicians.

I think the apology would mean a lot to a lot of people and be another reason to 1) learn more about the man Alan Turing and remember him as more than just a computer scientist and 2) celebrate gay culture and heritage.

Re:No thanks (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259627)

I would see it as an apology to homosexuals for their treatment if it was an apology to homosexuals for their treatment. Not any moment sooner. What's the statement of an apology to Turing but no other person ever tried under anti-homosexual laws? "It's still not cool to be gay, but we might descend to apologize to you if you're a fag but just so happen to save the empire and we then drive you to suicide". What kind of an apology is that, especially to the others accused and tried under this law? It's a slap in the face rather than an apology. You may rest assured that, if (big IF) that apology is eventually uttered, we'll see a lot of stress on how much Turing did for the victory of WW2 and how "misunderstood" he was, and so many other beautiful euphemisms to cover up the stink that they essentially dumped someone who had more impact on the beneficial outcome of WW2 than any general or any politician just because he's not into pussy.

An apology to Turing without an apology to the others that suffered the same fate but just didn't manage to somehow save the Empire is a slap in the face. Not an apology.

Re:No thanks (2, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259827)

Why would you choose something that gets you persecuted?Well, people do choose their religion, and religions can get you persecuted just as badly....

Re:No thanks (3, Insightful)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259873)

Also, I often find myself (an American) debating people who believe that homosexuality is a choice. Alan Turing is a great counterexample. Why would you "choose" to be gay if it meant this kind of punishment and drove you to take your life? And it's not like he was illogical, he's one of the greatest recent logicians.

While I do love this as it gives me another argument against people who blindly thrash through life with no regard what so ever for logic, fact and common sense, I must say I disagree with you somewhat.

Why celebrate "gay culture and heritage"? You seem like you respect Alan Turing, ergo I assume you pride yourself in logic thinking and sense. Would you argue that from a scientific, logic point of view, homosexuality is not a flaw? I mean, if ever I saw a trait that evolution would suppress, this would be it.

Yes, gays have been mistreated and ridiculed, beat and spat on. Still though, is the road to acceptance paved with pink man-strings, over-the-top genderized personalities, celebrations of ones (logically speaking) flawed dna and throwing the fact that you are different in everyone's faces? Really?

Strictly logically speaking, celebrating "gay culture and heritage" would be like me celebrating "diabetic culture and heritage". It's bullshit. It doesn't work that way. How about we all just get with the times, face the facts and realize that gay people are different and that it does. not. matter. (apart from those who for some reason think everyone needs to know where they like to stick their genitalia).

It's like racism in a way. If a black guy calls me whitey, pasty, whatever.. what happens? I don't give a shit, because my skin is indeed roughly the color of light dough (at least compared to the black guy). Now reverse the situation, see what happens if I refer to a black guy as black. It doesn't matter how politically correct I try to be, it doesn't matter that in a room full of white people his skin color is his most easily identifiable visible feature. He might be a cool guy, but most likely I will get a fist to the face, repeatedly. Likewise, if a gay guy calls me straight, even if he means it as a demeaning thing to say, he completely gets off the hook because noone cares. Refer to a raging homosexual as.. well.. gay, and you at the very least get a good screaming too.

*sigh* Can't we design some virus or some such that forces the right half of the brain to be the dominant one already?

Re:No thanks (2, Insightful)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259903)

An apology penned by the persons who currently constitute government in the UK would be utterly meaningless since those are not persons who had anything to do with Turing's treatment.

"The Government" is not some sentient, undying, collectively intelligent entity which can itself apologise for its behaviour. It is merely a label for a group of individuals currently fulfilling certain roles.

By all means seek out politicians and civil servants who had a direct hand in injustices of the past and pursue them for apologies over their behaviour. But don't waste time asking for an apology from people which - whatever they may be guilty of - are not guilty of the injustices in question.

Re:No thanks (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259525)

It's true that it's just a symbolic act at this point. But symbolism does matter sometimes. Such apologies are a reminder of how we can lose our way, particularly in paranoid times. That's a not-unimportant lesson for our post-9/11 era.

Re:No thanks (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259741)

I kind of agree with this to a great extent... but I find myself believing that he should get a knighthood. Not because of his treatment but because the guy earned it and saved a lot of lives with his code breaking work.

Pardon unlikely? (5, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259441)

Excuse me, but WHY would his pardon be unlikely? He was convicted of something that is totally legal today! Shouldn't they be pardoning EVERYONE convicted under these acts? He was convicted for having sex with a man in the privacy of his own home! These idiots shunned one of the most brilliant members of their society because of who he wanted to have sex with! If there are any conservative Christians out there who need an example of why their gay-bashing is idiotic and obscenely counter-productive, look no further than the case of Alan Turing.

Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259527)

If there are any conservative Christians out there who need an example of why their gay-bashing is idiotic and obscenely counter-productive, look no further than the case of Alan Turing.

Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual..

Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!! You want to get angry, you want to get fired up, you want to actually do some good and maybe save some lives, go after Sharia, today, not Britain 50-60 years ago.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (2, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259561)

Sure, we've moved on, but we all still have a long way to go with plenty of moving on to still occur.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259633)

Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!!

Which is why same sex partners can get insurance covered the same as heterosexual partners. Which is why gay marriage is legal throughout the US. Which is why gay men don't get beaten and killed regularly by homophobes in the US. Which is why homosexuals can serve openly in the US military and be war heroes like Turing was without being punished if their homosexuality is discovered like Turing's was.

Sorry, but the US and many EU countries are a long long way from "over it". There is still a lot of work to be done and Turing is a good example to the world, both the west and east as to why we should be getting over it and moving on. Obviously the abuses in some countries that are not christian are as bad or worse, but that's the "we're not as bad as China" defense and it doesn't hold up. What happens in Iraq doesn't make what happens in Arkansas any less horrific and the poster you're responding to was right to point that out.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (2, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259663)

Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual..

I was always taught to get your own garden in order before you go looking over the fence. Lead by example and all that.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259725)

People see what they want to see.

People that want PERSONS A to be evil hate filled monster will see everything that makes them evil hate filled monsters.

People that want PERSONS B to be perfect saints will see all the things that make them perfect saints.

People that try to point out that B has some parts of A or that A has some parts of B are told to shut up because A is A and it's the monster while B isn't the issue here it's A you goddamn monster. Stop trying to make it look good when A is filled with bastards like you.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29260079)

Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual..

I was always taught to get your own garden in order before you go looking over the fence. Lead by example and all that.

Are you a conservative christian? If not, it's not your garden either.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (1, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259685)

You must be new here. Everyone who kills others gets a free pass. This is just a power play, not an actual morality issue.

I mean you can't make up just how bad this is. Take the national health care initiative. Ever notice how many of the officials that are controlling the largest tax increase on Americans ever are just about all convicted tax-dodgers. This does not give these "progressives" pause. Why not ? Because they have enough political power to steal their fantasy from others, not pay it themselves. And they do it, not out of moral necessity, not out of any sort of rational judgement, but because they can. Because they can steal your money and spend it on their fantasies-du-jour, they do it.

But if you were to try something like that in Iran, you'd simply get killed. So there is no moral necessity to intervene, nor to get apologies, nor even to condemn those practices (except pro-forma when politically expedient).

In the end, of course this has one major effect :
all large institutions, whether states, religions, or ... will either become violent and physically attack, kill and murder any critics (and obviously once they attack critics they attack anyone they consider undesirable), or they will get pestered out of existence, if not outright attacked and killed this way, by creating large "public opinion campaigns" against them (that have a tendency to turn into violent mobs in a heartbeat, you know like the G8 protests traditionally do). Historically, the last few times liberals did this to large institutions, those institutions not only became violent, but they won.

If you want to see how fake power-hungry "progressive", or "liberal" public relations campaigns became violent and caused horrible disasters instead of improving the situation, look no further than Iran in 1972, the anti-shah protests and the rist of the Iranian gay-killing, extortionist muslim state. Then again, since a certain "prophet" did exactly the same as the Iranian state, perhaps one should think of this as exactly the same as what we call "islam".

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (4, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259787)

Right. Because it's only conservative Christians who "gay bash." Islamic fundamentalists, for whom gay bashing laws are still on the theocratic books, get a pass in the public consciousness, as usual.

First of all, I never said it's only fundamentalist Christians who bash gays. Fundamentalist Christianity is, however, one of the last and greatest bastions of hatred and bigotry left in the first world. I absolutely do not give Islam a free pass on anything, it is a vile, barbaric belief system that subjugates women and preaches intolerance. Fundamentalist Islam, however, is much less of a problem in progressive societies, however, as most fundamentalist Islamic societies are otherwise backward dictatorships that would be suffering the same human rights abuses under a similar, secular dictator. In the U.S., it is more or less impossible to get elected to higher office without professing belief in the Christian God. Fundamentalist Christians have their finger on the button and have huge sway over the minds of the people. We let people like Jerry Falwell (well not him anymore; thankfully, the God I don't believe in felt fit to strike this particular hateful gasbag down) and Pat Robertson spout the worst kind of vile hatred live on television because they do it in the name of the almighty jeebus. Fundamentalist Christians are, by far, the biggest threats to equality and freedom in America and western Europe. Thankfully, the world is beginning to leave these idiots behind as they are proven to be wrong again and again by science, and our reason brings their bigotry and backwardness to the light of day.

Lookit, the Americans and Western Europeans did some bad things, and then we got over it! We moved on! We entered the 21st Century!!

I wish this were the case, but it is not. Homophobia is still rampant. Gays are not allowed to serve in the military. Gay marriage is gaining traction, but encountering severe resistance. Gays still feel pressure to stay in the closet for fear of repercussions. Society has come a long way, but it still has a ways to go before people can grow out of their prejudices.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (2, Informative)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259939)

"Fundamentalist Christianity is, however, one of the last and greatest bastions of hatred and bigotry left in the first world."

As a Christian of the non-fundamentalist type, I'm sad to say that I agree with you on this.

Re:Oh, Those Evil Conservative Christians!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259949)

I am always amazed that when I leave "gay-friendly" cities in the US, just how intolerant every smallish town seems to be. I can walk down the street and hear every slur in the book, just for wearing a new sweater. So backwards. And I agree with all your points on Xianity, sad religion, sad people.

As the bumper sticker says, "God, save us from your followers."

Good point. The problem is ALL conservatives. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259993)

You're right, we should be fair: ALL social conservatives are evil, because they seek to preserve the evils within society and government that progressives wish to remove. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian or otherwise, social conservatism is a pernicious force. It's usually worse when backed up by religious dogma, though, because religious people will always trump reason with what they call "faith."

Re:Pardon unlikely? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259617)

He was convicted of something that is totally legal today! Shouldn't they be pardoning EVERYONE convicted under these acts?

No?

If something was illegal at a point in time and you committed the action, you broke the law. You're punished for it. The law may be completely and impossibly stupid by modern standards, but it was still the law.

The converse of "Hey, let's pardon people once that law is repealed" is "Hey, let's prosecute people now that this law's been made." In the same way you can't prosecute people for committing an action before it's made a crime, out of hand pardoning of people who broke a law that gets repealed is ridiculous.

Further, if you believe that "He's done a lot of good, so..." then there exists a problem of people who further humanity enough being given license for certain levels of crime.

Re:Pardon unlikely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259623)

Excuse me, but WHY would his pardon be unlikely? He was convicted of something that is totally legal today!

What's legal today may not have been legal yesterday. Only a fool would expect everyone to go trawling through all cases in history expecting them to be revised. This is just another homosexual group clamouring for press coverage. The queens want to be heard. Anyone that isn't an imbecile knows about Turing's sterling work, his magnificent efforts during the war and the computer revolution that followed, plus his preference for men. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just like being an atheist in the US army today.

Re:Pardon unlikely? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259765)

He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just like being an atheist in the US army today.

It's never a good time to be an atheist.
-God

Why not a general apology? (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259443)

Why not a general to all people who have been victims of unfair discrimination?

Appology for a wrong thing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259453)

Ok this opinion might be unpopular here, but the British Government has nothing to apologize about when talking of persecution of Alan Turing. The fact is: Alan Turing broke the law that was on the books at that time. The people knew of Turing's sexual orientation, but he did not have to act on it, if that was against the law. The British government could have put him in jail, instead they mandated that he takes hormones (which, of course have caused him to grow breasts...and lead to his depression)
NOW: What British government should apologize for, is persecution of all gays in the UK and the rest of the (now) commonwealth, which includes Alan Turing. The persecution in itself was wrong, not a treatment of the particular individual.

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (1, Troll)

EatHam (597465) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259569)

I think all governments should do nothing but apologize for mistakes they've made all day every day. That is sure to be the most efficient use of their time. Either that or thin-skinned titty babies could just get over it, realize that people in general, and people in power in specific were different back then, and move the fuck on with their lives. Christ, it's not like he's still being force fed hormones.

the apology isn't for turing you moron (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260029)

the apology is for us. if you have a conscience, you feel bad about something done wrong, and you try to make amends for it. it doesn't matter if you are the perp, or some other guy is, or its something wrong that happened 1000 years ago

its a simple, healthy, normal, human instinct

why the retarded antagonism to a simple human impulse?

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259595)

I disagree. If the persecution itself was wrong, then the treatment of each individual was wrong. It is not okay for the government to just arbitrarily make laws against something and say "Oh, well, you knew that was against the law, bad on you for breaking the law!" Government needs to be held accountable for these grievous human rights violations -- repealing the law is not good enough.

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260071)

I disagree. If the persecution itself was wrong, then the treatment of each individual was wrong. It is not okay for the government to just arbitrarily make laws against something and say "Oh, well, you knew that was against the law, bad on you for breaking the law!" Government needs to be held accountable for these grievous human rights violations -- repealing the law is not good enough.

But how are you going to hold anyone accountable? They're pretty much all dead, or out of power at the very least. Or are you going to lock up the abstract concept of "Government"?

And where do you propose we stop holding governments accountable for their grievous human rights violations of the past? You going to go after Italy because of how the Romans mistreated the Christians back in the day?

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259601)

You're such an idiot of the 1st order. What if they passed a law that it was wrong for you to be YOU?

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (2, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259739)

How was that prosecution wrong?

No, seriously, this is not a troll. Far from it. Laws, at any point in time, are a reflection of society's values. So we think gay people are okay and should not be prosecuted. Are you truly willing to retroactively put a country through a guilt trip for having had a different opinion, what, almost a hundred years ago?

If so, will you be willing to pay the price should we ever come to the conclusion that paedophiles are just another natural part of human sexuality? Because that, my friend, is the very possible danger you are facing with that opinion.

Seeing as nobody responsible for those laws back then is still in power, how does it make sense to demand an apology of today's government and thus of today's society?

No, if you perceive your ancestors behaviour as wrong, you should honour their victims by making sure it DOES NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259797)

Alan Turing broke the law that was on the books at that time.

Newsflash: any law which goes beyond natural law [wikipedia.org] is arbitrary by definition, because only natural law approaches 100% majority consensus. The vast majority of laws in practice today are designed to beneift certain people at the expense of other people. Not everybody at the same time. This is quite unlike natural law which (by human nature) benefits all people equally. The law regarding homosexuality in Turing's time is an example of an arbitrary law. Even if it had 95% support, in reality it is an attack on the remaining 5% for the benefit of the majority (and particularly, their leaders).

So what am I getting at here? The idea of respecting the law simply because "it's the law" -- rather than analyzing the logical merit of the law itself -- is not only childish and un-thinking, it's extremely dangerous. Much like blind patriotism resulting in genocide. If everybody was in this mindset, we'd already be at complete and total oppression.

Wasn't it Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that a man not only has the moral responsibility to respect just laws, but also the moral responsibility to break unjust laws? I believe that's one of the most insightful things he ever said.

Re:Appology for a wrong thing (4, Insightful)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260055)

Ok this opinion might be unpopular here, but the British Government has nothing to apologize about when talking of persecution of Alan Turing. The fact is: Alan Turing broke the law that was on the books at that time. The people knew of Turing's sexual orientation, but he did not have to act on it, if that was against the law.

Are you telling me that, if you lived in a country where your having sex was made illegal, that you would just stop having sex? Seriously? Do you think you could do that? Do you think that the average guy could manage that for any length of time? Because that's what it was. Turing was just a guy, living in a place where having sex with his chosen partner was illegal.

Some laws are just plain unjust. There is absolutely nothing wrong in breaking such laws.

NOW: What British government should apologize for, is persecution of all gays in the UK and the rest of the (now) commonwealth, which includes Alan Turing. The persecution in itself was wrong, not a treatment of the particular individual.

Agreed, both because the persecution in abstract was wrong, and the treatment of the individuals (Turing and the nameless others) was also wrong.

i hearby declare urination illegal (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260097)

hold your bladder until we change the law, or its your fault your pants get wet

sound absurd? that's what you are saying

"The people knew of Turing's sexual orientation, but he did not have to act on it, if that was against the law."

acting on your sexual orientation is not only your essential human right, it is IMPOSSIBLE not to act on it

Chemically castrated?!? (4, Insightful)

tolcreator (1628477) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259457)

Just... Wow. I'd heard of Turing's contribution to computer science of course but the notion of a state that will castrate you for being Homosexual is nightmarish... and 1952 isn't all that long ago. I suppose it's a good thing that such an act can be considered so outlandish and horrific today.

Re:Chemically castrated?!? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259519)

I have no problem accepting that Great Britain would chemically castrate someone. But that's because I'm just finishing a book about Culloden and the aftermath . . ..

Re:Chemically castrated?!? (4, Informative)

sh00z (206503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259729)

Just... Wow. I'd heard of Turing's contribution to computer science of course but the notion of a state that will castrate you for being Homosexual is nightmarish... and 1952 isn't all that long ago. I suppose it's a good thing that such an act can be considered so outlandish and horrific today.

Unless you were being deliberately ironic, don't be so quick to congratulate Western society for how wise we are "today." After all, Magdalene Asylums [wikipedia.org] were a roughly equivalent "treatment" for a similar "condition," and the last of these, in Ireland, wasn't closed until 1996.

just there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259485)

I was just at Bletchley Park last week on vacation, it is a truly amazing sight to see how a few brilliant people in a few old huts invented modern computing. Then those early "computers" were immediately dismantled following the end of WWII. As those brilliant people largely had to keep quiet after the war, their colleagues were becoming rich, claiming patents etc. (that said, they did help the war effort immensely). It's a shame that the world didn't get to see Turing live to an old age as he was the genius behind this and god knows what he was going to do next, and yet we could have if the British Government didn't pump chemicals into him...

muenalan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259537)

Why can't non-uk people join this motion - I would.

Alan Turing Memorial (3, Informative)

ctid (449118) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259565)

If you're visiting Manchester in the north-west of England, don't forget to visit the statue of Alan Turing: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=53.476722,-2.236028&spn=0.01,0.01&t=m&q=53.476722,-2.236028 [google.com] .

Re:Alan Turing Memorial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259807)

So, that's who that was!

I just drove by and saw this limp wristed statue with a MacBook. I didn't realize it was Turing!

Re:Alan Turing Memorial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259819)

This is in *really* poor taste, but I do like how there's a cafe 2 streets away called "queer".

They should and totally could, do this (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259571)

There is no reason why the current UK govt. wouldn't do this - after all, it's apologizing for something that a completely different set of leaders is guilty of. They will do it for no other reason but because it makes sheer political sense. No, not because it's the right thing to do.

Likewise, the Lockerbie bomber wasn't released because it's the right thing to do, but because Gaddafi all but publicly promised natural gas and oil at favourable prices, in return.

In other words: fuck it all.

Re:They should and totally could, do this (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259689)

Likewise, the Lockerbie bomber wasn't released because it's the right thing to do, but because Gaddafi all but publicly promised natural gas and oil at favourable prices, in return.

Did he promise them to the Scottish National Party ?

To what purpose? (5, Insightful)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259683)

Look, Turing's been dead for 50 years. The politicians that made the laws he was convicted under are all dead. The judge who sentenced him is dead. The police and the lawyers and everyone else involved are most likely dead.

A corporate body cannot take responsibility, only an individual can, and our major moral problem is that we keep deluding ourselves into thinking that "corporate morals" means something. It doesn't. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU DO, and "just taking orders" is never an excuse. Just as a bureaucracy cannot take the fault for a heinous act, it can no more offer real contrition, nor can it offer a real apology.

(Which is, incidentally, one of the major reasons our society is so screwed up. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis from an intro to one or the other edition of Screwtape Letters, the great evil done today is not done by thieves and criminals in the dens of crime Dickens loved to paint, but by well-dressed men in offices, acting behind the shield of a bureaucracy.)

Pardon em all and let gawd sort em out ... (4, Insightful)

warren.oates (925589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259717)

What about Oscar Wilde, then?

Let me spell it out (3, Interesting)

FatalTourist (633757) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259727)

It's not a literal apology to Turing. This wouldn't make sense, he's dead. This is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It goes toward making sure it never happens again. This apology is for living people. It's the UK government saying "Don't persecute gays, because they might be awesome and invent computers."

Re:Let me spell it out (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259941)

It not only will prevent the UK government from doing this, it will send a signal to the world about how stupid it is to persecute gays. Persecuting gays is still desired in most of the world, including by a shrinking majority in the USA.

Re:Let me spell it out (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260075)

It's the UK government saying "Don't persecute gays, because they might be awesome and invent computers."

But the current UK government doesn't persecute gays at all. Elton John and David Furnish had a gay wedding and everything. What exactly have Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Peter Mandelson (who is gay) et al they done to Alan Turing in the 1950s that they need to apologise for?

Re:Let me spell it out (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260087)

This apology is for living people. It's the UK government saying "Don't persecute gays, because they might be awesome and invent computers."

Or it might be: Go ahead and persecute gays, because a persecuted gay man (helped) invent computers!

BTW, it's probably more fair to attribute modern computers to John von Neumann [wikipedia.org] or Charles Babbage [slashdot.org] or Konrad Zuse [wikipedia.org] , not Alan Turing.

Funny how always the same "have to" apologize (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259759)

Just about every muslim country practiced slavery until 1960. The vast majority to 1970. And between 3 and 5 still practice it today. And everybody considers it laughable to demand an apology. ALL of them still consider any sexual deviance (and tons of quite normal acts) criminal offences, and the large majority applies the death penalty, and regularly execute homosexuals.

It goes further than that. Slavery was imposed on large parts of Africa by "the caliphate", the center of the muslim religion, and it's highest moral authority. Really the apology should come from islam itself, or it's politcal representation, and since the last caliph apostated, not from the caliphate, but from muslim religious institutions. Talk about a laughable suggestion.

Of course these people use violence against anyone who complains to loudly ... and guess what ... all "moral fighters" of the left shut up. They actually defend the people persecuting their compatriots. Being a liberal in Iran or any muslim country is of course not a job with the most huge of life expectancies.

One can only conclude that this is an issue pushed by cowards, and for the sole purpose of acquiring power.

FACT: Homsexuality is WRONG! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259815)

FACT: Homsexuality is WRONG!

Stop teaching homosexuality in our schools, it's wrong. It is a liberal marxist, democrat idea and that is wrong.

Stop protecting homosexuals with laws, it's wrong. It is a liberal marxist, democrat idea and that is wrong.

homosexuality is evil, it's obvious that it is evil and writings in the Bible show us it is evil and wrong. Plus, It is a liberal marxist, democrat idea and that is wrong.

Just like political correctness, amnesty for illegal aliens, affirmative action, the stimulus bull, government run healthcare and many other things, these marxist, democrat ideas are WRONG!

Re:FACT: Homsexuality is WRONG! (3, Informative)

Gwala (309968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259845)

> writings in the Bible show us it is evil and wrong.

Just like weaving two kinds of cloth. You evil blends you!

A new style of Turing test (3, Funny)

noisyinstrument (1624451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259835)

Simple test: Can a politician can deliver a heart felt apology for mistakes made by the British Government and convince someone hearing it that its actually sincere.

In 50 years nobody has passed the test, I won't hold be holding my breath for this one.

Be more consistent (2, Insightful)

haxor.dk (463614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259841)

Have every government apologize for all cases of discrimination, murder, destruction, theft, pollution, pillage and enslavement that they have done in the past, and have them pledge to not do so in the future.

But that would be utopian, when the fact of the matter is that the electorate of all western nations in some form or degree wants the above. (Yes, that most likely includes you, the reader, as well.)

What About An Apology For The Disasters (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29259899)

called Iraq and Afghanistan? [youtube.com]

Yours In Minsk,
Kilgore Trout

Sorry! (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29259913)

I bet, if he was still alive, an apology... would make... Turing complete. Terribly sorry.

! prejudice (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260011)

Do people confuse the term prejudice with bigotry and/or moral judgment?

It seems to me that a strict definition of "prejudice" would be the drawing of a conclusion before sufficient evidence had been considered. If someone had a problem with Turing's homosexuality per se, and he really was a homosexual, then their judgment of him wouldn't be hasty.

On the other hand, if what they really dislike is effeminate behavior, for example, and they merely assumed that Turing was effeminate simply because he was gay, that would strike me as an overly hasty conclusion, and thus be "prejudice".

But if the complaint is that Turing's detractors disliked him simply because he was gay, that strikes me as a case of bigotry, or of a moral judgment that's unpopular by current norms.

what's the point? (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260019)

Yeah, Alan Turing was really important to computer science. And he suffered because of a law that we currently find injust. But what's the point of this posthumous apology? The guy is dead. He's not going to feel any better if someone says they're sorry.

Is the point to get his name out there? To increase his fame? To get him the recognition he deserves? Why? Yeah, he's a big deal to computer scientists... But the world doesn't revolve around us. Why is it so necessary for the world to recognize his contribution specifically?

Is the point to make the British government apologize for treating people badly in the past? Again - why? They don't do that anymore, do they? Homosexuality isn't currently on the books as a crime, is it? Isn't that enough then? And if it isn't, where do you stop apologizing? Are you going to ask for a formal apology to every single person who was convicted of a crime that we now disagree with?

The past is the past. Bad things happened, innocent people suffered, but it is over now. Time to move on.

I'm not suggesting that we sweep all this nastiness under the rug, hide it, or forget about it... By all means, let's learn from our mistakes... But apologizing to dead people just doesn't get you very far.

Gay?! (4, Interesting)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#29260039)

Turing was gay? Wow, surprised I haven't heard of that yet. Though, now when someone is homophobic, I can ask them if they like using computers and if so, tell them they have a gay man to thank for a lot of the theory behind them as well as the allies winning WWII. That should shut them the hell up.
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