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Alan Turing Gets an Apology From Prime Minister Brown

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the mitigation-is-tricky-50-years-later dept.

Encryption 576

99luftballon writes "The British government has officially apologized for the treatment of Alan Turing in the post war era. An online petition got more than enough signatures to force an official statement and Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued a lengthy apology. 'Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.'"

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It's about damn time. (5, Insightful)

bezking (1274298) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384393)

If only Alan was alive today...

Re:It's about damn time. (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384413)

As they say, justice delayed is justice denied.

Re:It's about damn time. (-1, Troll)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384533)

As they say, justice delayed is justice denied.

Yeah. And I'd like to know how this actually helps Turing? He's dead. Is it helping his family?

I've read about what was done to him. His life was made horrible his last few years and now this statement is released benefiting who now?

Re:It's about damn time. (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384637)

It also apologizes for the discrimination he faced. A small, but meaningful token is this.

Consider that today, you can be gay and a programmer, and nobody cares except the bigots. That's as it should be-- except we need fewer bigots.

Re:It's about damn time. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384861)

Consider that today, you can be gay and a programmer...

So Alan Turing was a Cocoa developer before Macs were even invented? Man, he must've been good. Also, has anybody else accidentally spelled out "Anal Turing" when Googling his name? That's no accident.

Re:It's about damn time. (5, Insightful)

Aliotroph (1297659) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384747)

It doesn't benefit him, but it potentially benefits thousands like him who would suffer similar fates. It helps provide in some small way a defense against more of the same towards others. It's just the correct thing to do, even if it took them too damn long to do it!

I find it extremely offensive that any state would worry about that type of morality over the scientific/technological progress offered by such a man. Of course, in my world view, even if it was wrong or evil to be gay, I'd keep him around and happy just for the potential contributions towards turning humanity into an all-powerful machine society!

Re:It's about damn time. (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384989)

I wonder how many Palestinian lives were lost because of his deeds...

Re:It's about damn time. (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385033)

Here's an "Uncomfortable Truth" for you: probably a hell of a lot less than the number of lives saved worldwide because of his works.

Re:It's about damn time. (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385091)

? How is Turing related to Palestinians?

Re:It's about damn time. (4, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385319)

Britain was involved in the settlement and creation of modern-day Israel. Israelis and Palestinians often kill each other. It's not a real connection but I think this is what he's going for.

Re:It's about damn time. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385101)

I wonder how many Nazi lives were lost because of his deeds...

Re:It's about damn time. (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385149)

None? Unless they ate from the same apple.

Re:It's about damn time. (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385143)

Why do you care? If it doesn't hurt anyone. At worst it comes out the same as before.

Re:It's about damn time. (1, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384539)

Plato said that there is no true measure of justice, but it is important for a government to give the appearance of justice to society. This is a textbook example of that in action.

Re:It's about damn time. (2, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384543)

Yep. Good apology, politically safe to make it, he's still dead.

Re:It's about damn time. (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385159)

It was a good attempt though. Do you have any good ideas for making him not dead?

Re:It's about damn time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384865)

Why was this modded a troll??? I get we have some homophobic jerks as moderators.

Re:It's about damn time. (-1, Troll)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384947)

Alan Turing is dead beacause of Republicans.

Hmmm! (5, Funny)

resistant (221968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384401)

It's nice to see a politician who can actually pass the Turing test.

Re:Hmmm! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384483)

The Turing Test is not a measure of intelligence, human or machine. It is a test of whether or not a human can be FOULED into believe a machine is a human, and it was passed long ago by a very simple program (ELIZA).

Re:Hmmm! (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384705)

Fouled? Like a baseball?

Re:Hmmm! (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384717)

It is a test of whether or not a human can be FOULED into believe

Indeed, ducks have been passing it for years. This technology is also the basis of Google's PigeonRank. \sillygoose

Re:Hmmm! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384943)

OK, so I fat-fingered FOOLED, but the word you're looking for is FOWL.

Re:Hmmm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384925)

my x?
your x.
xyzzy
lets discuss further why your x.
my x?
your x.
xyzzy

Re:Hmmm! (5, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384999)

I'm sure the apology caused Alan Turing to halt for a moment.

Re:Hmmm! (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385097)

I'm sure the apology caused Alan Turing to halt for a moment.

You'll never prove it.

Re:Hmmm! (1)

Kahlua (157854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385207)

Hilarious!

Re:Hmmm! (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385099)

Does it mean he is Turing-complete?

Online petition (-1, Troll)

Loualbano2 (98133) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384409)

Since when is an online petition worth more than a squirt of piss?

-ft

Re:Online petition (5, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384433)

I'd say since about 24 hours ago or however long it was. Seems to have worked.

Re:Online petition (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384801)

Its been a little longer than 24 hours.... I know that there have been hundreds of petitions over at least 30 years... I've signed a fair amount of them over the years.
 
Though those are the old fashioned in-the-rain gathering signatures on paper type....

Re:Online petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384793)

When the action requested in the petition does not cost any money. Words are cheap.

Re:Online petition (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385105)

Since when is an online petition worth more than a squirt of piss?

I'm pretty sure aiming a quart of piss at PM Brown wouldn't have gotten the same response.

Pretty sure, anyway. Ya never know with those Brits...

Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (4, Interesting)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384421)

Don't get me wrong, I feel the statement is fine and all that, just strikes me as weird to put those two concepts together.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (5, Funny)

segedunum (883035) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384463)

You're obviously not familiar with Gordon Brown as a literary wordsmith.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (4, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384465)

No, Mr. Brown is being proud to be the one apologizing. A politician's way of bragging to the other politicians that he got to do it and they didn't. Peacocks are all the same.

Not really... (5, Insightful)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384467)

Humility is an honourable trait.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384499)

It is hardly humility if you are not responsible for it.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384769)

Its easy to say you are sorry for something that you didn't do and weren't accused of doing.

Re:Not really...Truth abou humility (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384829)

There is no more despicable coward than the man who deserted the battle for his joy, fearing to assert his right to existence, lacking the courage and the loyalty to life of a bird or a flower reaching for the sun. Discard the protective rags of that vice which you call a virtue: humilityÃ"learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happinessÃ"and when you learn that pride is the sum of all virtues, you will learn to live like a man. - Ayn Rand

more detail at http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/humility.html

Re:Not really...Truth abou humility (3, Insightful)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385173)

Randroids don't pass the Turing test.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (-1, Flamebait)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384537)

Ha! He's a liberal. Have you ever met a liberal that wasn't proud to be sorry? You must have missed Bill Clinton's Apologize to the World Tour.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (2, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384585)

Is that any worse than a conservative who's proud that he's not sorry when he ought to be?

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (4, Insightful)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384611)

And you must have missed an awful lot of education if you think that Gordon Brown is anything to do with liberalism.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (1)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384703)

He is an American... What did you really expect?

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384723)

"Liberal" means something entirely different in the US than it does in the Czech Republic.

Re:Proud to be sorry, an odd concept (1, Troll)

StackedCrooked (1204878) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384733)

And "I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him". I guess British pride gets in the way for a more humble way of phrasing an apology.

Not forced (5, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384431)

An online petition got more than enough signatures to force an official statement

Bullshit. The British Government happily ignores these online petitions whenever it doesn't suit them to agree. It's simply a matter of them saying something like "We expect the results of an investigation into this matter. We will make a decision in due course. Thanks for playing." They normally rephrase that last part though.

Re:Not forced (4, Insightful)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384601)

Well, not exactly. Once the petition is signed by more than 500 signatures the government has to make a response. However, you are right in that the response is usually worthless.

Re:Not forced (3, Insightful)

kenj0418 (230916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384941)

Once the petition is signed by more than 500 signatures the government has to make a response.

Over here in the states we have in our constitution that we have the right to "petition the government for redress of grievances". Although, unfortunately, no one had the bright idea to make it a requirement that the government actually give a damn -- or even pretend to - when we do.

Re:Not forced (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385165)

However, you are right in that the response is usually worthless.

I concur; no official posthumous pardon, or in the absence of that, funding to maintain the Bletchley Park museum.

TL:TL (3, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384511)

Too Little. Way too late.

Re:TL:TL (5, Insightful)

nbates (1049990) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384741)

"Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly."

It is not too late. Homosexuals still exist, even homosexuals that were alive back then.

Re:TL:TL (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384911)

It's not even just that there are people alive today who were persecuted in years past -- 93 state governments still persecute homosexuals, 7 by the death penalty.

Re:TL:TL (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384993)

True, but this is for Alan Turing personally. This statement should not be diluted to be more generally applicable. Let this one be for him alone, since he was the victim in this particular instance. Rather, if another public statement is required, then work toward that.

Better late than never. (4, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384513)

Despite the awful treatment he was exposed to at the time, it is comforting to see him finally recogonized for what he really was.

Right On. (5, Insightful)

beej (82035) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384535)

This was long overdue, to be sure, but even now it means so much to so many people. I believe we all owe Turing, whether we know it or not.

Any time a government admits, "Ok, we screwed up," it's a big deal, and it's usually a sign of change for the better.

Re:Right On. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384711)

Any time a government admits, "Ok, we screwed up," it's a big deal, and it's usually a sign of change for the better.

Or a simple consequent-less way to divert attention and appease the (burgeoning) restless masses.

Re:Right On. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384795)

It's not "we screwed up", it's "our predecessors, who are long dead, screwed up".

And it's ridiculous to blame the British government exclusively for what happened to Turing. Anti-gay sentiment was not merely endemic, it was part of the everyday background social noise in almost all levels of society. The government of the day was just reflecting the morals of the day.

If anything, it's not the government but the people of Britain who owe Turing an apology. As such, it should probably come from the Queen, not Gordon Brown.

(Arguably, the peoples of the rest of Europe and America owe him just as much, but that's a separate issue. And they didn't actively persecute him, although doubtless they would've done so like a shot if he'd tried to take refuge there.)

An Easy Apology (5, Interesting)

thechanklybore (1091971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384541)

I suppose we should be pleased that Brown has issued this apology, just a shame he's part of a government that knew about torture of terrorism suspects under interrogation. I don't think chemical castration is any worse, and it was even legal at the time. How times have changed eh? Now the government only does awful things to you without evidence and when you've not even had a trial.

To stop this turning into a rant though, I salute you Alan Turing for bringing philosophy into Computer Science through all your pioneering AI work. You deserved far better.

Re:An Easy Apology (5, Insightful)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384633)

"I suppose we should be pleased that Brown has issued this apology, just a shame he's part of a government that knew about torture of terrorism suspects under interrogation. I don't think chemical castration is any worse, and it was even legal at the time. How times have changed eh? Now the government only does awful things to you without evidence and when you've not even had a trial."

Well yeah. The thing is, Turing's contribution to the great britain shouldve made him a hero. INstead, he got castrated.

The cases you point to, at least, were against "enemies" (however true that is). What they did to Alan was against a war hero, perhaps the most important life saver in the retake of europe from the nazis as his work allowed the allies to gather the information they needed to get the nazis out the countries they had invaded.

Not to mention, for christ sakes, that he was the inventor of computer theory. Not just europe or the brits owed things to him: my job and life revolve arround what he started because I work in computing. The computer revolution would not have been possible without his mathematical work (and that of many others like Von Neuman).

Re:An Easy Apology (5, Insightful)

thechanklybore (1091971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384773)

I agree with you. We English have a history of persecuting our great men based on their sexuality (Oscar Wilde for example).

Still, hero or nobody I imagine that goverment will have a constant supply of things to apologise for in 50 years time to which they will say "I can't believe the abhorrent and barbaric treatment of people in those times".

Swings and roundabouts.

Re:An Easy Apology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385243)

They should be apologizing for those roundabouts. Especially those crazy multi-lane fuckers. The argument that they are more efficient than a traffic light is countered by the argument that they piss off lots of people and have higher accident rates.

Re:An Easy Apology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384927)

"I don't think chemical castration is any worse,"

Come on. Really. How about you try both first and decide for yourself.

whatever (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384573)

he was nothing more than a fag.

Re:whatever (2, Insightful)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384653)

I believe you mean "a puff".

Nothing more than a computer-theory-inventing-second-world-war-winning-hero puff.

Re:whatever (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385019)

I believe you mean a "poof" not a "puff" </pedantic>

Grudgingly given apology? (1, Interesting)

malus314 (1484329) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384575)

From the article:

"...thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britainâ(TM)s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing."

Read: We got ganged up on and were forced to issue an apology for treating Alan Turing like shit.
I'm glad the apology was (finally) issued, but was it just me, or did it seem like it was given somewhat grudgingly?

Doesn't do him justic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384621)

It's a shame they didn't at least pay passing tribute to Turing's full accomplishments. Cracking Enigma and "quite brilliant mathemetician" don't do the man justice. I like Wikipedia's "often considered to be the father of modern computer science" as a starting point.

That's not good enough (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384641)

What they did to a human, let alone him... no, a simple apology just won't do.

Congratulations, I guess (0, Flamebait)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384721)

You got your apology to a dead man from a man who did not wrong him. I hope you (the petitioners) feel better, because it certainly accomplishes nothing else.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384879)

You mean just like all of the apologies and reparations for slavery in the US?

Re:Congratulations, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384979)

the only reparations that have been paid are through TANF

Re:Congratulations, I guess (1, Troll)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385135)

Exactly like those, in fact. Meaningless, useless, and arguably immoral.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (3, Interesting)

Malibee (1215790) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385139)

Yes.

Genuine progress and enlightenment does not require a political mandate.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385039)

Nonsense. It's a symbol. Just like the apologies for slavery in the US, as brought up by another poster. The government of the UK is saying "the things we did to homosexuals were wrong."

Sure it does (1)

SAN1701 (537455) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385121)

It makes nothing to the great dead man who suffered this injustice, but the acceptance, by the government, that it was a wrongdoing, turns it more difficult to happen again. And this is far from nothing.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385141)

You got your apology to a dead man from a man who did not wrong him. I hope you (the petitioners) feel better, because it certainly accomplishes nothing else.

The underlying message (and the one that actually matters) is that persecuting gay people is wrong.

One only has to look as far as things like the gay marriage ban in California (prop 8) to recognize that this message (still) needs to be heard.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (1)

Klaatuu (723790) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385249)

As others have, I think, pointed out, the dead cannot hear apologies; but we, the living, can. The government's apology is a signal for today and the future.

Re:Congratulations, I guess (5, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385257)

You are completely right. Well, almost completely right. The only worse thing would be letting history roll on without even so much as an empty, belated, politically opportune token such as this apology. When an injury is done to someone that is beyond repair or restitution like this, even moving mountains won't fix things. But silence becomes an accomplice to the original act, and at least speaking out serves to break it.

Gordon Brown's apology not enough (2, Funny)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384749)

Stop me if someone else has already addressed this point-but why not re-animate him as a zombie? Gay Zombie Turing would be amazed at the amount of rights homosexuals have today, although I assume he'd be more appalled at what passes for sophistication these days.

In the immortal words of Tom Servo: (2, Insightful)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384763)

Whoopdie Shit. Nothing quite beats apologizing for leading someone to suicide because they didn't love what your government decreed everyone should love...long after their death. Maybe next time the government will, I dunno, apologize in their lifetime! Better still, how about not doing something grossly inhumane to someone? Hell, Turing did good things for these assholes and all he got was shame and suffering from them. Any "deeply sorry" just comes off as "Well I guess I better do this before someone throws a rock through my window" in my eyes.

Re:In the immortal words of Tom Servo: (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29384819)

It's actually highly unlikely he committed suicide. But I guess if it makes you feel better...

Of course... (0)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384781)

Of course, the Government doesn't want you to know that Alan was actually assassinated by a covert agency after he discovered the Turing-Lovecraft Theorem [google.com] .

Seriously though, this was long overdue. RIP Alan Turing.

Aw crap... (0)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384797)

"ised for the treatment of Alan Turing in the post war era. An online petition got more than enough signatures to force an official statement..."

That's just the sort of encouragement these 'sign my [useless] online petition' people need.

I'm all for protesting, but an online petition is one small step above... scratch that... exactly equivalent to moaning about an issue on slashdot.

That the gov't reacted is not because of the power of the online petition, it was far more likely simply because it was a convenient and symbolic gesture that would distract news media from more critical stories.

Scoring brownie points (2, Insightful)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384807)

Bah, this is just Labour trying to score a couple of brownie points since they're about to get trounced in the election next year.
Some PR drone probably stumbled across the petition and thought "Ok, this sounds like a good idea and it won't hurt the government's image, we might as well do it".

Yes (1)

vierpsyche (1078467) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384847)

about time! The man was a genius.

My apology (0, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384867)

If you experienced the momentary outtage of slashdot - my bad. Big burrito lunch, you understand.

Turing (1)

KliX (164895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29384987)

On many nights when I was studying Computer Science at Manchester University, I sat next to Turing's statue outside the college after going out in the village. The apology is "nice", but really means nothing at all..

Though at least our government made it. Finally.

Too late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385035)

This is the same as when the Catholic Church apologized to Galileo Galilei: too little, too late. What good is to recognize a wrong done so many years ago to a person already dead?

Historic Apology?

Yes, but I'm not sure the ones apologizing CAN be really sorry for something they didn't directly do.

Too bad things didn't happen Greg Egan's way (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385037)

There's an excellent short story Oracle by Greg Egan imagining what would have happened if Turing's life had gone slightly differently. Egan portrays a very interesting world with heavy emphasis on how Turing might have interacted with C.S. Lewis. See http://gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au/MISC/ORACLE/Oracle.html [netspace.net.au] .

Too little, too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385071)

I guess in 50 years some sorry assed figurehead will be apologizing to everyone who wasn't "allowed" to marry in this day and age.

Not the best choice of phrase (2, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385123)

"We can't put the clock back" sounds awfully inappropriate in an apology for chemically castrating someone.

Re:Not the best choice of phrase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385197)

"We can't put the clock back" sounds awfully inappropriate in an apology for chemically castrating someone.

"If we could swing the pendulum back and forth a few more times...Roll the stones of time backwards...Put the clock back..." It all sounds appropriate to me.

Official Skinflint Act (4, Insightful)

epine (68316) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385127)

I read Spycatcher a long while ago. Wright seemed like a guy who made many solid technical contributions to the geekdom of spy craft. Clearly, later in life he had some axes to grind. One of which is the terrible way the Official Skinflint Act was used to deny benefits to long serving members of the secret service. Like what they say about Area 51: the only secret there is the massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Peter Wright - Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Because of the interest and because of the rancour following the pension, in 1985, he decided to publish his memoirs in Australia in order to make ends meet. The British government did all it could to suppress publication, under the pretext that such a publication would be in violation of the Official Secrets Act. They brought an injunction against Wright in Sydney. The Australian court, however, ruled against the British government, thus turning a book that might have had moderate success into an international best seller. Furthermore, the verdict not only vindicated Wright but also represented a victory for press freedom. The publication of Spycatcher temporarily unlocked the doors of official secrecy as far as former intelligence officers were concerned. With the enactment of the 1989 Official Secrets Bill, an absolute prohibition on revelations by serving or former intelligence officers was imposed.

The British governing class always seemed to care a lot more about that stiff upper lip thing, than rewarding those who toil in mandatory obscurity.

The other aspect that boggles the mind is the "gays are communist pinkos" circularity. If you castrate your war heroes, I think you might just be priming the pump for defection. It's not gays as such who are unreliable, but anyone who fears arbitrary persecution by their own government.

Another thing I've sometimes wondered: notwithstanding the official secrets act, where was Churchill when Turing could have used a solid character witness, such as "the official secrets act prohibits me from discussing the details, but in my opinion, if you do this, you'll shame the British empire for 100 years" or some distinctly British harrumph to that effect.

The real shame here is the amount of power held by the people who knew better.

something was accomplished (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385183)

Apologizing or not- neither one helps Alan Turing now.

But this sets a precedent. By apologizing for this behavior in the past it cements it as being definitely not OK and that can help others.

Why geeks don't care about homosexuality (4, Funny)

trout007 (975317) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385247)

Feel free to add more. 1. We are happy when anyone gets laid 2. The heterosexual geeks aren't threatened. I mean if we can't get girls to find us attractive no gay guy would. 3. Decreases denominator in available (girl/guy) ratio.

Re:Why geeks don't care about homosexuality (1)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385311)

Point 3 is perfect.
I definitely would have supported it in college where the ratio was 1:19 (girl/boy) (without home/hetero calculations).

Very good form Gordon (0, Redundant)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 5 years ago | (#29385295)

This is good.
Very good.
As an old, straight, white guy, I think this is just wonderful.
Governments hate to apologize.
This is good.

!programming !encryption (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29385305)

This story is related to neither programming nor encryption. Please use tags appropriately, members of /. As interesting as this apology is, I'm confident that anyone who wants stories related to programming or encryption will not be interested in a story about a politician apologizing for deeds which took place when he was an infant.

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