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No Pardon For Turing

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-the-crime-do-the-time dept.

Crime 728

mikejuk writes "A petition signed by over 21,000 people asked the UK Government to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. That request has now been declined. A statement in the House of Lords explained the reasoning: 'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted. It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd-particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort. However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.'"

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It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941025)

ensure instead that we never again return to those times

Then perhaps pardoning him would be a step in the right direction?

Re:It's not a choice (-1, Troll)

Spyware23 (1260322) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941047)

So what if it were a choice?

Re:It's not a choice (5, Interesting)

snarkh (118018) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941053)

Why only him? Many people were prosecuted along the same lines. I actually think it would be unfair to single him out in that respect.

Re:It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941147)

In the interests of fairness, they could just change the verdict from "guilty" to "Formally undecidable in many of the most interesting cases". That should justify the special handling.

Re:It's not a choice (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941429)

Awesome!

Re:It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941167)

Could offer a blanket pardon, to everyone convicted under those laws.

Re:It's not a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941175)

to make an example of him!!!

or do you think only evil dictators should have the right to resort to the tool of making an example of someone? Better shut down the ole' nobel committee then...

Re:It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941155)

I think I see their point in that last statement. By "undo-ing" this awful thing, they would pretending like it never happened. It's the same justification why the Nazi concentration were never torn down: as a whole, the human race should never forget the immensely awful things that we were capable of in the past. To do so dooms us to repeat it. That being said, I am all for the pardoning of Alan Turing. He was a great man, cruelly betrayed by his own nation.

Re:It's not a choice (4, Insightful)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941315)

By "undo-ing" this awful thing, they would pretending like it never happened.

Erm... no, sorry, it doesn't work like that. If you are found guilty, sentenced and later acquited for some reason (trial errors, being proven innocent, etc.) nothing disappears. Reversing the sentence on Turing doesn't automatically make the original sentence disappear, it doesn't make the petition to reverse that sentencing disappear, and it doesn't make the reversal disappear. Nothing would vanish in a cloud of smoke. Of course this make the comparison to dismantling Nazi concentration camps tenuous at best as no information would actually be lost.

What they see as rewriting history I consider righting a wrong, and righting a wrong after the wronged one's death may not do much for him, but it does a non-negligible bit for us living ones (at least it stands as an example of willingness to do the right thing).

Re:It's not a choice (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941349)

Only none of your reasons for acquittal apply here. There was no trial error and he wasn't innocent. There is no doubt as to his guilt (as there was no doubt about the guilt of Oscar Wilde either), it's just that the law that they broke was absolutely abhorrent.

Re:It's not a choice (2, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941485)

He was a great man, cruelly betrayed by his own nation.

He wasn't betrayed. He admitted to and was subsequently tried and convicted for something which at the time was a criminal offence. And leading from that lost his security clearance.

Re:It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

Chrisje (471362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941171)

No. As some other poster already commented, apologizing to his family, or for that matter to all families of people that got persecuted for similar reasons, would go a long way towards the right direction, but a pardon is just silly. The man got convicted, and is dead as a result of what happened A posthumous pardon would just feel like a big wallop of mustard after the meal.

So at the end of the day I find the statement of the House of Lords quite correct, but would appreciate it if someone could apologize for this. Having said that, this is an endless cycle. In Holland, the Catholic Church needs to apologize for the Inquisition, but the protestants need to apologize for what they did to Catholics after the inquisition, the VOC people should apologize to the Indonesians, West-Africans, South-Africans (the black ones), the KNIL people should apologize to some Indonesians, the Japanese should apologize to some KNIL people I know, the English should apologize to us for taking Manhattan away, the Dutch should apologize to the English for giving them Manhattan, etc etc etc.

The apology business is a never ending circle-jerk because if I had a dime for every group that has been maltreated somewhere on the planet during mankind's history, I'd never have to work again.

Re:It's not a choice (1, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941251)

No, this is typical British "the procedure is king, even when it's unjust, destructive, and actively interferes with its announced purpose". The British worship of procedure is long established: anything that calls a procedure into question is ignored, even it is, in fact, contravened by procedure from a higher authority..

Re:It's not a choice (2, Funny)

umghhh (965931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941489)

I knew it all along - Brits are more German than Germans. If they worship papers with big stamps (possibly eagle) then they can join German Federation as 17th Land. At least they would get decent roads and at least partially working public transportation (along other aspects of civilization).

Re:It's not a choice (4, Informative)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941359)

So at the end of the day I find the statement of the House of Lords quite correct, but would appreciate it if someone could apologize for this. ....

As far as I know prime minister Gordon Brown did exactly that on September 10th in 2009.

Re:It's not a choice (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941373)

John Paul II did apologize for Church's Inquisition. I don't know how many times it needs to be done for it to be done. If once is enough, then consider it done.

Re:It's not a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941451)

I think he went too far.

Obviously he should have apologized for the comfy chair. But apologizing for the soft cushions with the stuffing all at one end went much too far.

Re:It's not a choice (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941441)

I am pretty sure the UK government did officially apologize for Turing's treatment (And I am sure they mentioned everyone else convicted of the same laws at the same time) like a year or two ago.

And I concur, while pardoning him does not really wipe the evidence that it happened away it is still a step in that direction and not something that should be done.
In a way, as a guilty man, he is a pioneering gay rights activist and that should be remembered not pardoned.
It is no "crime" to be convicted of breaking an unjust law, and it can be considered a virtue.

Re:It's not a choice (4, Insightful)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941463)

That's actually not what's at stake. That's the central error in the HoL's reasoning. It's not about "fixing" something they did wrong: yes, they humiliated and persecuted a man not guilty of violating any law a civilized society would enforce. However, the fact is that the official policy of the government has been, and indeed still is, that his contributions are illegitimate, and that rather than being one of Britain's dearest national treasures, he was a criminal and a deviant. The pardon is not about making right something about the past, but making right something which is wrong about the present.

Turing needs to be pardoned so that the British government can affirm that it does not consider its old judgments valid. It will not cause us to "pretend it never happened," any more than the Catholic church's pardoning of Galileo caused us to forget his mistreatment. No one is going to look up Alan Turing in a textbook, see he was pardoned, and go "oh, well that's that then" and forget the barbarism of his time. And to act like upholding Turing's guilt will remind the government to always reflect on the errors of the past, as if it were some sort of cross they were nobly bearing, is egregiously deceptive and a little nauseating.

Perhaps the most trenchant point people have made is that, by the logic that Alan Turing should be pardoned, all persons convicted of gross indecency for the practice of homosexuality should be pardoned. That is indeed correct. However, Turing is a fine place to start. If Amy fucking Winehouse can smoke crack on camera, and have the government twiddle its thumbs and look skyward, we can forgive someone who may be considered by no small stretch one of the architects of the modern world a little "indecency."

Re:It's not a choice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941447)

Poor turing.. At his death He left someones behind.

I have to agree (4, Interesting)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941031)

Alan Turing was outright persecuted for failing to conform to society's norm. The government owes Turing's family and the rest of the country, even the rest of the world an enormous apology.

But granting a posthumous pardon does not change the past. We were still robbed of one of history's brightest and greatest minds because of homophobia. I agree with their reasoning, granting the pardon ignores and whitewashes the past. We should remember and tremble at what intolerance and hatred produces, not pat ourselves on the back for being more forward-thinking than our predecessors since as a society I don't think we've actually changed. Sure, it's no longer as popular to hate on homosexual people as it was in the past, but we have all new forms of hatred and intolerance which our modern society deems acceptable, and which will be just as subject to the next generation's ridicule and derision.

Re:I have to agree (2, Interesting)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941101)

Sure, it's no longer as popular to hate on homosexual people as it was in the past, but we have all new forms of hatred and intolerance which our modern society deems acceptable, and which will be just as subject to the next generation's ridicule and derision.

Atheism is the new red-headed step-child [ft.com] .

Re:I have to agree (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941137)

Only because it is the latest up-and-coming religion. The new kid on the block always has the hardest time.

Re:I have to agree (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941227)

Atheism isn't a religion.

Of course it is. (1, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941285)

And if reddit/atheism and Dawkins are anything to go by its adherents are basically the same rabid bigots that in the past would have been running the Inquisition in Spain "because we KNOW we're right!"

Fundamenal Christianity and Rabid Atheists in the mold of Dawkins have basically the same mind set. Closed minded, intolerant of difference and utter certainty that they are right and that if you disagree with them then you are in some sense damned.

Re:Of course it is. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941367)

The difference between atheism and other religions is that atheists dont force others to follow their beliefs in terms of laws,etc
They wont kill people in the name of religion, or stop people from eating beef, or censor online content,etc

Re:Of course it is. (3, Insightful)

eyrieowl (881195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941483)

Rubbish. How many times have you seen someone write, "We ought to outlaw religion." or something to that effect. "Atheists" aren't and haven't been in a position of power to do such things, but if you think that there aren't *some* atheists who wouldn't try to impose their views on everyone if they had the opportunity, just like some religious folk do, you are sorely mistaken.

Re:Of course it is. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941397)

The important difference you are missing is that Atheists are right. If you don't agree with use then you are stupid and ignorant.

Re:Of course it is. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941421)

I don't think you know much about Dawkins if that is your opinion of him. He states pretty clearly in 'The God Delusion' that he's not rabidly certain theres' no god. He's just certain enough that he sees no point to live his life otherwise (on the scale of 1-10, where 10 is absolutely certain there is no god, he puts himself at 8 or 9). And while there are some raging tools in the atheist community, I think most of us are pretty content to live and let live as long as religious folks aren't imposing on us. The best description I've ever heard of the 'militant atheist' mindset comes from P.Z. Myers, who said that his dream is for the day that religion will be like knitting: nice for those who are into it, but easy enough for the rest of it to ignore, and doing harm to no one.

Contrast this with actual religion, whose most vocal adherents want some truly awful things done to the rest of us, and the claim that atheism is just another fundamentalist mindset is patently silly.

Re:I have to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941301)

It is a belief system, as are all "religions". Open your minds, people!

Re:I have to agree (3, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941319)

It's a lack of belief system.

Re:I have to agree (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941391)

Is it a lack of belif, or a belif in the lack?

Most people with a lack of belif in God don't get out of their way to claim they are atheist, and don't go indoctrinating other people. The people that go in that kind of activities have a clear belif in the inexistence of God, what is a belif system just like any religion.

We name both groups the same way, what makes communication quite of hard...

Re:I have to agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941491)

Is it a lack of belif, or a belif in the lack?

We don't name both groups the same way.

Atheism is the belief in the lack of a god. The word you're looking for the "lack of belief" way of thinking is Agnosticism.

Re:I have to agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941453)

Exactly, it is the conclusion drawn from the lack of evidence.

It does not preclude the possibility of evidence being discovered to the contrary, however.

This is the big difference here IMHO.

Religion does NOT include the possibility of the non-existence of whatever holds the belief system together.

Disbelief does. When evidence is provided to the contrary.

In other words, it is a conclusion based on available evidence. I would label it a logical conclusion.

Re:I have to agree (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941459)

I think you're mistaking atheism for agnosticism.
Atheists believe in the absense of a divine power. They often believe that anyone religious is delusional, and that science will, ultimately, allow us to copy any phenomenon witnessed in nature.

Re:I have to agree (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941461)

It's really not a belief system either. A quick dictionary check shows a belief system is the framework upon which beliefs are based. Most atheists would identify their belief system as rational skepticism or humanism or more rarely something semi-religious like Buddhism. Atheism tends to be an artifact of the belief system, rather than the belief system itself.

The term is a response to the typical expectation of religious belief in society, not a whole-cloth concept in and of itself. This kind of equivocation helps no one.

Re:I have to agree (1)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941415)

Atheism isn't a religion.

"Dearly beloved....we are gathered here in the presence of math, gravity, evolution...."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_25w9CE73ak [youtube.com]

Depends on what flavor of atheism. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941515)

There's at least five distinct variants of atheism, although many atheists aren't interested in philosophy of religion so they haven't studied it, and thus can't really discuss it intelligently.

The kind of atheism that is orthogonal to agnosticism is not a religion.

However, the type of atheism that is entirely based on a fanatical devotion to unprovable postulates is, indeed, a religion.

To put it another way: People who say "there's probably no God" (like Dawkins) or "you can't prove the existence of your particular beardy sky-man" are not practicing a religion. But people who froth at the mouth on Internet forums, and have an unshakeable, unprovable belief in the non-existence of any sort of God (like Hitchens) have abandoned science and reason, and are proselytizing their faith. You cannot rigorously disprove the noodly appendage with logic, reason or math; therefore any belief or disbelief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster is faith-based. Agnosticism avoids this trap.

Re:I have to agree (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941375)

In addition to Jocce640k's comment that "Atheism isn't a religion", it isn't new either.

Re:I have to agree (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941331)

I thought you'd said "autism is the new red-headed step-child" and was very confused upon reading the article.

Re:I have to agree (3, Interesting)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941457)

I can see the link you're making here, but I don't think we see it the same way.

Intolerance stemming from the echelons of the religious societies was what defined homosexuality as illegal, in much the same way as Atheism is reviled in the way described in the article you linked. Sure, I can agree with that.

However, homosexuality was hated on for nothing other than what it was and that was what ultimately led Turing to take his own life. Atheism, by contrast (and imho), is reviled not because a lack of faith is seen as inherently wrong by modern religious types, but because a disproportionate amount of outspoken Atheists are inflammatory jerk-offs with some misguided superiority complex (see Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, et al).

As an Agnostic (in more senses of the word than the religious context), I have an inherent mistrust of people who declare themselves Atheists not because of any religious sensibilities, but because of the high profile people associated with them and the attitudes that a great many of them have to those who don't share their (lack of) beliefs. The Internet is full of the pious atheist types, for example. I can't think of any reason that the same logic would have applied to homosexuals, other than scripture declared it to be morally bankrupt.

And yes, I am painfully aware of the parallels drawn between religion and atheism here.

Re:I have to agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941141)

I also agree.
Makes more sense to ask him for pardon.

Re:I have to agree (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941151)

The government owes Turing's family and the rest of the country, even the rest of the world an enormous apology.

Already done [bbc.co.uk]

Really, I think that's all the government can do. I suppose a pardon might make us feel better but it's not going to do much to help. I propose we simply recognise him as a pioneer and as an important part of the codebreaking at Bletchley Park.

Re:I have to agree (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941185)

Somewhat revisionist. Turing was a closest homosexual. That made him a prime target for blackmail at a time when most countries were extremely paranoid, and fixated with espionage. Turing was in an extremely sensitive position regarding his knowledge, something a foreign government would be desperate to get hold of.

Sticking his penis up a man's anus was not the issue. Try learning history instead of simply doing a dweeb sabre-rattling exercise.

Re:I have to agree (2, Informative)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941193)

In some US states, there are still laws being passed [nydailynews.com] that enable persecution of "deviant" behaviour, e.g. being gay or transgender.

Re:I have to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941197)

But granting a posthumous pardon does not change the past.

No, but it IS the best thing that can come for an apology to the family of Alan Turing.

Without the pardon, there will always be a piece of paper sitting in government offices, pronouncing their relative to be a "sexual pervert." Clearly, that is unacceptable. This is the reason that posthumous pardons have been granted to many other individuals, prominent or not, over the years.

Failing to issue the pardon is essentially saying "well, we issued you an apology, but we still say he was a pervert." They should issue the goddamn pardon already.

Re:I have to agree (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941253)

Actually, they said he was gay.

Theres a difference between being branded gay, and being branded a pevert.

Is he suddenly not gay anymore?

Re:I have to agree (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941479)

No, they didn't say he was "gay."

He reported the burglary of his home to police, and the british police used it as an opportunity to get him to admit to a homosexual relationship [wikipedia.org] , then used that as the basis of a charge of "gross indecency", and the resulting conviction was used to force him to decide between jail or chemical castration.

Your "they said he was gay" is so far from the truth that it's ridiculous.

Re:I have to agree (1, Insightful)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941247)

Sometimes I think if pedophiles will be accepted by society and people will remember this time as persecuting them. So I would not judge the laws and the people of that time. Things change, what was once common (ancient Greece) becomes unlawful and then becomes normal again.

Re:I have to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941381)

As long as murdering child rapists with extreme prejudice is also considered lawful...

Re:I have to agree (4, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941467)

Unlikely. As has been pointed out in about a thousand places every time there a comparison between homosexuality and pedophilia, two homosexual men (or women) are adults capable of informed consent. A child is not and never will be able to provide informed consent, so there is unlikely to ever be a situation where children are seen as acceptable sexual partners. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality unless you accept that the only purpose of sex is procreation. Anyone who has ever had sex with another consenting adult outside of marriage and without the purpose of reproduction has done the functional equivalent of homosexual sex. Only rapists have done the function equivalent of child sex.

Not exactly. (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941273)

If Turing had belonged to the right regiment or club, it would all have been hushed up. The reason he was arrested and convicted was that, as a mathematician and electronic engineer, he was excluded from the inner circle of the British Establishment, whose view was that scientists and their like were not out of the top drawer.

Perhaps equally importantly, the background was one of gay-bashing in the US Establishment, who regarded homosexuals as a security risk (because, in typical backwards thinking, the Russians might blackmail them...which could not happen if their behaviour was regarded as unexceptional.) The US was already very worried about UK agents with Russian links spying on them, and was demanding a purge of unreliable elements from the British security services. Turing was high enough profile to show that we were "doing something", but low enough status to be thrown to the wolves,

This is the real background: class solidarity and stinking hypocrisy. Not much has really changed in the upper echelons of British society; it still comes as a shock to them when the British public turns out to be years ahead in their attitudes. And the actual workers in the security services are still treated like shit - Peter Wright wrote his book, Spycatcher, because as a mere surveillance expert he didn't qualify for a pension, unlike the higher-ups with their Eton and Oxford backgrounds.

Re:Not exactly. (5, Interesting)

micronicos (344307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941363)

Thank you Kupfernigk, spot right on!

Sadly we now have a government composed of these aristo thugs. Americans can understand the class system intellectually but you have to have grown up in it to really appreciate its demonic force & antiquity. The 'old boy network' (and it is boys not girls) is alive & well and still runs post-imperial Britain with the same self-centred blinkers & mealy-mouthed hypocracies.

The sad thing about the Turing criminal case is that it was he who volunteered the information that he had a gay relationship to the police; this was in the course of reporting a burglary at his home; he was such an innocent, lovely man.

In short (1, Flamebait)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941049)

What they essentially mean is - "It was Turing's fault that he was born in those times apparently and there is nothing we can do about it. May his soul never rest in peace."

Re:In short (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941119)

Yes, because a posthumous pardon would sort out his soul.

It is a sensible and consistent approach in the UK justice system that pardons are not issued if the person in question was fairly convicted by the laws of the time. Pardoning him would not undo what was done, he's long dead and unlikely to get better, the government has already apologised for the way he was treated and all this would really do is help to assuage our guilt.

Re:In short (4, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941245)

In retrospect the semantic hairsplitting and tying of legal precedent in knots that enabled the Nuremberg Military Tribunals to sentence high-ranking Nazis to death and imprisonment for doing things that weren't illegal when and where they were done seems indefensible. To retroactively pardon Turing because the case seems crazy in hindsight is to open the door for pardoning those Nazi fuckers because we can now look back and see that the deck was stacked against them in court.

Re:In short (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941291)

Of course it would. Didn't you know that God answers to the Queen?

Well yeah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941057)

They are actually spot on with this. What entitles Alan Turing to a pardon above all others that endured the same fate? The statement is clear and regrettable, and effectively a pardon to all rather than a select few - it's just not a formal pardon. If they had to do it with every past law that was deemed unfair by modern standards they would waste a lot of time, especially in the United Kingdom.

Attainting? (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941217)

I have no idea if this ever came to bear or not, but I remember recently, I was reading up about "Bills of Attainder", and one of the things about British Law, apparently, was that if someone was "attainted" because of a criminal prosecution, they could in some cases be forced to forfeit all property/wealth, and so their family would be effectively "dis-inherited".

I don't know if anyone ever had forfeiture because of those particular laws, but I should think that *if* anyone was subject to that, that it would be appropriate *today* to posthumously pardon those people and give reparations to the families (it might not be possible to give lands back, as they presumably long since been given/sold to someone else, but they could at least compensate those people for the seized assets).

Something in the HoL statement makes sense: (5, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941067)

rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times

This train of thought is not so stupid at all. "Pardoning" Turing would help no one, and would not increase his glory. The glory he has, he has in our minds.

QFD

Re:Something in the HoL statement makes sense: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941237)

As long as the rest of the world can continue to view the House of Lords as a bunch of pompous asses, then it's likely even.

Re:Something in the HoL statement makes sense: (2)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941281)

To children of today who study about Turing, they have no conception of the sort of environment that he lived in. Sure, they'll be told about oppression and persecution, but as soon as that lesson is over, they'll forget about it. If they learn that he was pardoned, they'll think "oh, that's ok then". I believe that in fact, NOT pardoning him makes it all the more poignant for those who can't imagine a world like the world he lived in.

And, as the article says, it'll remind us never to return to those times again.

Re:Something in the HoL statement makes sense: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941355)

I have to say I disagree. The United States government formally apologized to the Indians for taking their land. Was the superfluous?

Maybe, maybe not.

But today, when Israel tries to expand at the expense of Palestinian land, and treats them as the Americans treated the Injuns, it is that much easier to say "No." No pardon = go ahead and do the same thing, when you are at the same stage of your country's development.

Justice is in the eye of the wronged (2)

Zharr (879496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941073)

More likely is the issue that they would then have to deal with requests by other people in similar circumstances and they don't want to spend the resources to handle those cases. Camel noses and tents and all that.

Re:Justice is in the eye of the wronged (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941135)

In an ideal world - yes, justice would be in the "eye of the wronged". In this world, however, justice is in the eye of the victors, or of the strongest.

Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941079)

long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right

That much is certainly true. Still, it seems reasonable for the government to acknowledge the law was unreasonable, and that it was their mistake, not his.

Re:Yes, but (2)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941229)

Still, it seems reasonable for the government to acknowledge the law was unreasonable, and that it was their mistake, not his.

Which is exactly what this statement does. What more do you want ? A law ? For a single person ? De minimis non curat lex [wikipedia.org]

WAAAT (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941085)

Well this is inconsistent:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8249792.stm [bbc.co.uk]

And backwards, and horrible. To think they'd uphold the integrity of a mere law that was clearly wrong in retrospect over the integrity of a good person...disgusting.

Re:WAAAT (2)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941179)

How is it in any way inconsistent?

It has nothing to do with the integrity of the law, as they say in their statement "which now seems both cruel and absurd" and everything to do with acting in line with established procedure for dealing with posthumous pardons where the person(s) in question were fairly convicted under the laws of the time.

If you were to attempt to restrospectively pardon every person who was convicted under a law that has since been repealed or replaced, you would be doing it as a full time job.

Re:WAAAT (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941323)

If you were to attempt to restrospectively pardon every person who was convicted under a law that has since been repealed or replaced, you would be doing it as a full time job.

Which is probably a sign that we should stop damned well passing laws to stop consenting people doing things that produce no victims...

So sorry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941087)

Common, stop acting like pussy liberals. Does a "sorry" change the past? Shit happened, get over it. The laws have been changed already, there's nothing that can be done unless you know how to time travel.

Re:So sorry (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941317)

If Turing didn't commit suicide as a result of this, we may have had a working time machine by now! So all we need to do is a send a message into the past to tell Turing to hold out a little longer and he'll get a pardon. If only Turing was here, he'd know what to do.

Unjust laws (-1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941089)

So even though we know the law was unjust, and that he was justified in breaking it, he still can't get a posthumous pardon for it? Wow. Guilty of being gay. Who'd have thunk it?

Unless they're saying that they think the law was just. And I'm sure they really, really don't want to say that.

Re:Unjust laws (5, Informative)

BenJury (977929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941165)

Thats exactly what they are not saying.

However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.

Re:Unjust laws (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941263)

Ok great. Now lets see them put right what can be put right. There are people in Britain's jails today that are every bit as persecuted as Alan Turing was in his time. They're just there because of a different prejudice.

The right thing to do is to pardon anyone and everyone who is convicted of a victimless crime.

Re:Unjust laws (4, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941395)

The right thing to do is to pardon anyone and everyone who is convicted of a victimless crime.

I'll be testifying on a bill [nhliberty.org] on Thursday that would allow this as a defense in a trial.

If you care about this kind of stuff, c'mon over to New Hampshire [freestateproject.org] where we're actually making some progress. A thousand activists have moved so far (to join those of us already here) and 19,000 more are waiting for the mass move.

Re:Unjust laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941219)

Yes, we know the law was unjust. Does that mean all verdicts based on this law should be changed?
What if a new law - that is considered just and necessary - is made? Should everyone who broke the then non-existent law in the past be punished for it now?

Don't try to change the past from the present. The law was unjust, therefore it was changed. The verdict based on the law was legally correct, therefore it shouldn't be reversed.

Sensible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941091)

Makes sense - otherwise everytime a law changes we'd have to pardon everyone dead or alive who had ever been convicted - what a waste of resources. Its not like he cares either way now and a pardon wouldn't change how people view him.

Henry the VIII would be proud (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941117)

So I guess then by their logic Anne Boleyn should remain "guilty" for all eternity as well, after all she should have known better than to not bear a son.

Re:Henry the VIII would be proud (1)

Fishchip (1203964) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941325)

You could use a more modern, more relevant example. That was a batshit crazy period in history, where you could hardly walk down the street without getting your head chopped off.

Isn't that why it's called a pardon? (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941133)

Granted I am not familiar with the law on that side of the pond, but here in the States we have governors pardoning child killers.

terrorism, comminism, being a Banker (0)

evanism (600676) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941187)

We trade with communists now. They are our biggest trading partner. We love them. We do deals with terrorists (Pakistan, hiding OBL). They are now our friends.

Our world sees being a banker as fine today... let us hope they are persecuted in the same way in the future! (or are they!)

After all, even Jesus hated bankers.

Here's a beter idea (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941195)

Instead of retroactively correcting the injustices of the past, how about we look at who is suffering injustice today? What are we doing today that future generations will be appalled at? We still persecute people for making harmless personal choices. Let's stop.

Re:Here's a beter idea (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941347)

OTOH, our descendants may be amazed at the amount of ignorance we displayed with regard to certain "harmless" personal choices, which turned out not to be as harmless as all that.

Nowadays it's obvious that smoking is bad for you. 60 years ago, some doctors and scientists said it was good for you. It took a long time to change the official attitude to tobacco, and even longer to change the public attitude, because smokers and corporations resisted change at every step, insisting that smoking was a right and an essential freedom.

What's the modern equivalent of that? Any "harmless" personal choice that people are "persecuted" for today? One that you think is harmless but others think is dangerous, perhaps? How do you know you're right, and they're wrong? How do you know what the science will say, a hundred years hence? Maybe it will side with the authorities for doing their best to protect people from making bad choices. Or maybe it will condemn the authorities for not doing enough to stop people making bad choices. You just do not know.

But one thing is this. Your choice is a choice. Alan Turing's choice wasn't really a choice.

Re:Here's a beter idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941449)

Here's one: you can get locked in a prison for many, many years for growing the wrong houseplant, regardless of what you do with it.

Turing complete? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941199)

They are going to use Turing to represent how bad it is to pass judgment on someone based on an unjust law? How... Turing complete.

It's always problematic (4, Insightful)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941205)

to judge people from a different age. Values change over time. Would it be just to posthumously find Thomas Jefferson guilty of slavery when it was legal in his time? There's probably something each of us is doing today that in 100 years will be looked back on as a hideous crime (keeping pets? Scolding our kids?) and there are things we consider crimes now that in 100 years they won't believe anyone was ever so primitive as to believe it's a crime (drug use? Assisted suicide?).

Re:It's always problematic (1)

Fishchip (1203964) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941295)

Where have you been? Scolding your kids is already a hideous crime.

Re:It's always problematic (2)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941509)

OMG you clearly dont have kids. Or at least, ones that will grow up with some sense.

Re:It's always problematic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941329)

Making something illegal is different than making something legal: it's why pardons are constitutional and ex post facto laws aren't.

That's better than pardon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941215)

It may sound ridiculous, but it is.

cb

somebody doesn't understand "pardon" (4, Insightful)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941297)

The term "pardon" means forgiveness of a crime, so the fact that Turing was properly convicted under the law back then isn't an obstacle to a pardon it is a requirement; if he hadn't been convicted, he couldn't be pardoned now.

Furthermore, you pardon someone when you find that his positive contributions have outweighed the harm he has caused. For Turing, that is true not only because of his immense positive contributions, but because what he was punished for then is now not even considered worthy of punishment.

If anybody ever was deserving of a pardon, it is Alan Turing. And you really have to wonder about the motivation of the UK government for denying it.

Re:somebody doesn't understand "pardon" (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941341)

Exactly. This is not a request to overturn a conviction on some legal basis of an error in the conviction.

Re:somebody doesn't understand "pardon" (2)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941487)

I think most people would be offended if you told them you "forgive them for being gay". It implies that it's something that needs forgiving.

What the U.K. government is saying is that Alan Turing did not do anything that requires forgiveness. The law was "cruel and absurd" and shouldn't have existed in the first place.

Would this decision pass the Turing Test? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941303)

Was this decision made by humans, or by machines applying a rule-based database?

The reasons cited have been overruled before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941339)

A few years ago, there was a decision in the other direction, to grant posthumous pardons to all soldiers executed for cowardice in the Great War. That had been dismissed repeatedly on grounds very similar to those given here, but (after many years of campaigning by relatives) was finally conceded.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/hundreds-of-soldiers-shot-for-cowardice-to-be-pardoned-412066.html

I think Turing's case might eventually go the same way --- perhaps more likely if done in concert with the case of others similarly mistreated, including still alive. Give it time.

Homophobia is powerful (4, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941351)

Think about all of the things that Turing accomplished in his life. Father of computer science. Father of artificial intelligence. Incredible at code breaking. Brilliant mind with exceptional talent. A genius. Patriot during a time of war. Marathon runner. A leading and formidable intellect he had.

But all of that didn't matter because he was gay.

A pardon is a joke and whitewashes history and puts a false Disney happy ending on a horrific story. "Oh yeah he was persecuted for being gay but at least after he died he was pardoned so we get to feel good about ourselves". This isn't a fairytale. This is history and it wasn't nice.

He was one of the smartest people alive and majorly contributed to the war effort and none of it mattered against him being gay. And after being humiliated and stripped of his security clearance he killed himself. End of story.

And how did he kill himself? Just like Snow White was poisoned in his favorite fairytale. He poisoned an apple with cyanide and then took a big chunk out of it and waited to die. That's his fairytale ending. A pardon is an empty gesture in my opinion.

Laws driven by corporate interests/social moires (1)

neurosine (549673) | more than 2 years ago | (#38941425)

Damn, we're still doing it...please freeze me for awhile longer.

Bishops (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38941455)

Maybe a simpler explanation has more to do with the fact that there are still 26 bishops sitting the the House?

26 bishops of the Church of England sit in the House of Lords. Known as the Lords Spiritual, they read prayers at the start of each daily meeting and play a full and active role in the life and work of the Upper House.

Ref: http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/the-church-in-parliament/bishops-in-the-house-of-lords.aspx/ [churchofengland.org]
I don't think we'll see much in the way of progressive/human thinking here...

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