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New Call For Turing Pardon

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the give-him-a-break dept.

Crime 231

mikejuk writes "As 2012, Alan Turing Year, draws to close a group of highly regarded UK scientists, including Professor Stephen Hawking, have repeated the call for a posthumous pardon for Turing's criminal conviction in a letter to the Telegraph. The letter has re-opened the debate, which is controversial even for those who support the idea that Turing was treated in an unfair and appalling way, was formally acknowledged by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 when he apologized for the treatment Turing had received. In February Justice Minister Lord McNally rebuffed a 23,000 signature petition for a pardon saying: 'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.'"

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231 comments

He doesn't need a pardon . . . (5, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | about a year ago | (#42315359)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

Agree complete (5, Insightful)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#42315379)

An official "pardon" for a joke of a "crime" would just legitimize the "crime", and say "it's ok to be gay, but only if you're a brilliant scientist". The above declaration would, on the other hand, send a much stronger message, and would actually mean something.

Re:Agree complete (3, Interesting)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#42315961)

What is a crime and what isn't is arbitrary. At the time, the law, said this was a crime, so it was.
There is no absolute definition of crime, just what a jurisdiction will classify as crime during a certain time period.
Therefore, technically, there is no reason to give a pardon at all.

The thing is, emo people would feel better if a pardon was given, because the previous law was unjust (whatever that means) and therefore changed. So the real question here is the following: shall we throw logic out the window to make the masses happy?
The answer, of course, is no. There is no sufficient popularity to gain to justify such nonsense.

Re:Agree complete (5, Insightful)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#42316121)

You will note that I basically agreed with everything you said. (Other than my sarcasm quotes around "crime", which I will stick to.) Yes, it was a "crime" at the time. Therefore, pardoning would be silly, and wouldn't help much with anything, given Turing's long dead, he wouldn't care much. Officially retconning the very existence of the "crime" out, though, while it would do just as little to help Turing, would send the strong message, "we feel this was a terrible idea and are sorry we used to think otherwise." They wouldn't do anything "to make the masses happy", they'd be doing it, at least hopefully, because they *agreed* with those masses and wanted to show their agreement. Yes it was a crime at the time. Yes, the people responsible for sentencing the dude to punishment did exactly what the law said they should have done. But... so?

Let it go (-1, Troll)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year ago | (#42316417)

People need to leave the past in, well, the past. This is what ticks me off. Blacks keep saying that they want reparations for slavery. I won't give them dime one. The grandparents maybe, but the newer generation need to shut up. What might have been wrong yesterday does not apply today when the law changed overnight.

Re:Agree complete (2, Insightful)

Datoyminaytah (550912) | about a year ago | (#42316159)

Following this logic, if he were still alive and in prison, there would be no reason to release him once his "crime" ceased to be labeled as a "crime."

Re:Agree complete (2)

Golddess (1361003) | about a year ago | (#42316207)

shall we throw logic out the window to make the masses happy?

Lets ignore the fact that the man is dead and instead pretend that he is alive and in prison. How are we "throwing logic out the window" to release a person from prison because the law that put him there was changed/repealed?

No, the real question here is why you think it is ok to incarcerate someone for something that is no longer a crime, just because it was a crime when they did it.

Re:Agree complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316407)

... because the previous law was unjust (whatever that means) and ...

Unjust. Adjective. Definition: not based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.

You're welcome.

Re:Agree complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316457)

Also why BOTHER with it? He has been dead for quite some time. There is no reason to retry him (which is what people are asking for) using modern laws. It is a waste of time and money. Something any CS guy (like turing) would probably see as waste. CS guys hate waste...

Re:Agree complete (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42316013)

Legally, the prosecution did not commit any error in law and, if they had discretion to prosecute or decline prosecution, it's hard to make a case that they made an error in judgment.

Parliament, representing the people, did their job as the law reflected social norms of the time and it did not violate any "basic rights" of Englishmen as they were understood at the time.

What is needed in this an any other situation where a government, representing the people and acting in good faith, acts in a way that a future generation realizes is just plain wrong, is an apology from the current government "on behalf of" is predecessor and the people it represented.

Parliament can and should come out and say "Many years ago, our country adopted laws and policies which we now know were morally wrong. We apologize for those acts. We cannot undo all of the wrong that was done, but this is what we are doing...." followed by specific details such as nullifying criminal convictions, etc.

By the way, the text from the pardon refusal (taken from here [i-programmer.info] ) says

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

While I agree about never returning to those times and I agree that the past cannot be fully "put right," I disagree that no action is better than partial action. There are no doubt some people who are alive today who would personally benefit from such a pardon. There are also descendants who would benefit in intangible ways from a pardon of their now-deceased family member. Society also benefits when governments admit and, when possible, take action to correct mistakes.

Re:Agree complete (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316095)

I agree. What he did then was a crime, and a posthumous pardon (aside from being a huge waste of time) does not help the gay rights movement. Saying "we forgive you for being gay because you're a great Briton" is not an appropriate honor. Being happy that an unjust law has been removed is. A pardon is not an apology. It is very much the opposite.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315447)

Wrong. What he did was wrong and he was handled appropriately.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#42315565)

It wasn't wrong, it was just illegal. There's not really any such objective thing as "wrong" anyway, only what individuals or societies decide for themselves to be moral or immoral. The majority of people don't consider being gay to be immoral.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (4, Insightful)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#42316115)

There's not really any such objective thing as "wrong" anyway, only what individuals or societies decide for themselves to be moral or immoral. .

Now there's a can of worms.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#42316263)

There's not really any such objective thing as "wrong" anyway, only what individuals or societies decide for themselves to be moral or immoral. .

Now there's a can of worms.

The other way is a can of worms, too, since you'd then have to somehow determine which moral code was the correct one -- assuming that one of the existing ones is the correct one, which might not be the case.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (4, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about a year ago | (#42315533)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

As the government always had the option not to prosecute under the law, the least they can do is to explicitly declare the law an error and apologize to and pardon *all* who were prosecuted under it.

It's not about Turing, so much as it is prosecuting people for something they should never have been prosecuted for (and the government always made the decision whether or not to prosecute)

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316161)

The problem with this is that everyone has a pet law that in their eyes criminalises something that should not be a crime be it blasphemy, age of consent, some drugs or illegal parking on Sundays.

Only social evolution decides when and where these are acceptable or unacceptable, and its not all a one way street.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42315633)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

I think you're misunderstanding what the Judge is saying. Whether someone's guilty or not does not mean they were right or wrong, ethical or unethical. It means that they met an arbitrary standard based on three criterion; The state of mind of the actor, the actual act itself, and the motivations for doing so. The law is not about right or wrong, good or evil, it is about application of a defined criterion and determining whether it meets it or not. That's it. That is all.

The laws, even back then, were sufficiently complex and vague in many places that everyone commits a criminal offense at least once a day. In the United States, I have played a game with friends I like to call "Who Wants To Be A Felon" -- and then record their daily activities (for one day) and tell them, based on which laws, how many felonies they committed. The rules are: You can't just sit in your house and wait it out, you have to do something you'd ordinarily do on an average day (go to work, use a computer, eat breakfast, etc.) At the end of the day, I collect the cameras and if I can't find a felony you've committed during that 24 hour period, you get $500 bucks. Dozens have tried. Nobody's won so far.

That's the reality of our legal system. It's also why you should never, under any circumstances, talk to the police. I'm serious -- even during a routine traffic stop say "no comment" to every question except your name, address, request for driver's license and other necessary papers. That's why the much maligned 5th amendment was created: Not to protect the guilty, but to protect innocent people that might otherwise, through a lack of understanding of the legal system, wind up convicting themselves for a crime they didn't commit. And yet far too many people give up this right -- 86% of cases never go to trial because of confessions. And let me be frank: When you sit down in an interrogation room, you're going up against an olympic boxer with 20 years of experience questioning people. If you open your mouth, you are going to lose.

Now, with that detailed analysis of why our legal system is completely divorced from the idea of justice, and why the judge was totally correct in saying a pardon should not be issued, let's also consider that Mr. Turing is dead. He won't benefit from a pardon. But we can all benefit from a frank discussion about how society allowed a man to be tortured for being gay, and use that as a stepping stone to more progressive thinking. I think if Mr. Turing were alive, he would be pleasantly shocked to discover in how many places the tides of religious intolerance have been turned back and gays are now given most (if not all) the same legal recognition and protections as heterosexuals are. I think he would also be standing next to people like George Takei in saying that it does get better. And it does.

But only if we remember in the darkness, what we've seen in the light.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315669)

"At the end of the day, I collect the cameras and if I can't find a felony you've committed during that 24 hour period, you get $500 bucks. Dozens have tried. Nobody's won so far."

Sure you do. You have a pattern of telling a lot of whoppers on Slashdot and I doubt you have even done this once much less dozens of times. Care to post a vid if the story is true? I bet at least ONE of your participants would allow it. Or are you lying again?

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315941)

You have a pattern of telling a lot of whoppers on Slashdot
 
Right? She posts multiple times a day, is an expert on everything she talks about and has time to play intellectual games with her friends that involve them carrying around cameras and taking apart their day to look for obscure laws that most people don't realize are laws. Amazing.
 
I think girlintraining just needs to feel important and throws out anything she can and hope that she sounds knowledgeable enough that people who don't know better mod her up to pad her ego.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (3, Interesting)

SourceFrog (627014) | about a year ago | (#42316371)

Considering that things like "curfew" and "loitering" ("the act of remaining in a particular public place for a protracted time") are amongst the most commonly prosecuted felonies in the US, just to start with, I don't think it sounds too hyperbolic (e.g. http://felonyguide.com/List-of-felony-crimes.php [felonyguide.com] ). Linger for a few seconds too long on the sidewalk while out to lunch? Sorry, guilty of loitering.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (3, Interesting)

niado (1650369) | about a year ago | (#42315839)

In the United States, I have played a game with friends I like to call "Who Wants To Be A Felon" -- and then record their daily activities (for one day) and tell them, based on which laws, how many felonies they committed. The rules are: You can't just sit in your house and wait it out, you have to do something you'd ordinarily do on an average day (go to work, use a computer, eat breakfast, etc.) At the end of the day, I collect the cameras and if I can't find a felony you've committed during that 24 hour period, you get $500 bucks. Dozens have tried. Nobody's won so far.

Though the rest of your post was rather insightful, this is wild hyperbole, unless you are playing this game only with a particularly lawless set of individuals.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (3, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42316277)

Though the rest of your post was rather insightful, this is wild hyperbole, unless you are playing this game only with a particularly lawless set of individuals.

Well you don't have to take my word for it. How about a public defender [youtube.com] in California who now teaches at Harvard Law and a career detective with 20 years under his belt? This was the video that inspired the game I play, precisely because so many people think like you do.

People like you are in fact so resistant to the idea that they can easily be a criminal too, just like the ones they shun and look at disgust at on TV, that I put my money where my mouth was. $500 seems the magic number for people to give their belief about this aspect of the legal system a spin on the wheel as it were. And it's a real contest, make no mistake man. I take all the footage and logs of what they've done and ask a real and licensed public defender in my state to look over my work and tell me whether it would be actionable or not. A lot of times, I get the interpretation wrong, but never once have I failed to walk out of their offices with a yes vote.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316373)

I don't believe you do it either. Seems like you are either a super-genius with a lot of time and resources or just a bullshitter. Too may posts where you are an "expert" in divergent areas. I could be wrong, but 99 times out of a 100, it is just bullshit.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#42316361)

I personally don't see many felonies, but misdemeanors are commonplace. The most common I see are traffic violations (mostly speeding, failure to signal, and "rolling stops"), but other violations are often so trivial that people don't even realize they're breaking the law. Simple things like having a crack in a window or a garbage can turned over can be against local laws.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315911)

Wow. I often chat and joke with cops that pull me over. I've never been convicted of anything they would not have known anyway (e.g. being unlicensed, or speeding etc.) but I've often got off simply because they thought I was a nice guy. Other times I've had them show me the gadgets in their car.

But I guess, at the end of the day, it comes down to how charismatic one can be; and remember, cops are just normal people too.

"Who Wants To Be A Felon" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316069)

You're on! I go several days each week without committing any felonies and I can prove it!

I just have to add two more rules: My lawyer reviews the camera before he turns it over to you and I get to say "sorry, not today, maybe tomorrow?"

Within a week you'll owe me a grand or two.

It's also why you should never, under any circumstances, talk to the police.

AMEN brother!

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42316397)

Can I try? I could use $500. If you follow me for a week will you give me $3,500? I am sure you could get me for some non-felonies on me as i do drive and am sure there are some things you could find there. But a felony? Doubt it.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (-1, Redundant)

Orga (1720130) | about a year ago | (#42315659)

... he's dead.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315833)

Well, that makes the posthumous part a bit easier. It would be a shame to have to kill him prior to pardoning him.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315753)

guys if you don't like the law you need to change it. If you break the law you will be punished, that's how it works. Sure it's hard work changing the law, and even today we have stupid laws that will seem savage and inconsiderate to future generations, but you have a responsibility to tackle it now rather than moan about something in the past.

He probably won't get one anyway (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year ago | (#42315779)

However controversial, the Justice Minister's point seems to make sense from a legal standpoint: issuing a pardon could be interpreted as the UK government accepting liability for these past events, in a similar way that issuing apologies to African countries for the triangular trade might.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42315781)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

Or a declaration that the law used in the prosecution and conviction was an evil, mean and stupid law, put on the books by a bunch of stinkers.

and Britain should never apologise for slavery because it was a totally cool thing with the Crown at the time

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42315953)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

I don't know if there is such an instrument; but what we really need for this situation(and a fair few others) is some equivalent of a 'pardon' that constitutes a formal repudiation of the law in question.

"Pardon" = "Guilty; but we'll let it slide because something something or other." What we need is a "Law XYZ was total bullshit, even when it was still on the books, and prosecutions for violation of it, however formally correct, are similarly unjust."

It's perfectly correct not to pardon Turing, there's no evidence that the conviction was procedurally or factually troubled(and selective pardoning of cool guilty people is, if anything, an offense to justice itself); but it is worth noting that the 'crime' he was convicted of never should have been a crime.

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316255)

. . . he needs an official declaration that he was never guilty in the first place, and should never have been prosecuted.

*sigh* Yeah, sure, and after that, you still won't be happy and you'll start bitching that we need to arrest and imprison the entire bloodlines of each law enforcement official involved in the case.

Then you still won't be happy and you'll demand the closure of the entire district where he was arrested (entirely; all buildings, law enforcement-related or not, and the entire region evacuated) to preserve it as a historical marker and warning against ever doing that again.

Then you still won't be happy and you'll claim we require the obliteration of the entire British Isles just in case anyone escaped the Great Turing Purge to really REALLY mollify your vague, nebulous rage over the memories of the persecution of someone you read about a long long time ago, and we NEED to make sure we teach the world a lesson.

Then you still won't be happy and, to really REALLY REALLY make you forget all this, we need to go back in time and stop the formation of England or any royal bloodlines in that area of the planet, just to make sure this never happens again.

And somehow, you'll still remember that this happened before in some timeline, and it still just BUGS you, y'know? Arrrrrrg! How can you ever be happy? So next, you notice that all these horrible, horrible people involved in this live on the same planet...

Re:He doesn't need a pardon . . . (0)

SourceFrog (627014) | about a year ago | (#42316281)

The problem is just look who they're asking for a pardon .. the government, who are little more than a bunch of criminally-minded sociopaths who don't care about doing the right thing. It is a strange concept to even ask such people for a "pardon", as if their "blessing" carries any moral weight - Alan Turing arguably contributed far more to society than any of these people (like Lord McNally). The silver lining here is that I suspect in 500 years, 1000 years, people will still remember Alan Turing positively as an important figure in the development of computing, while if anyone remembers "Lord McNally" (doubtful) it will be as the asshole prick who denied Alan Turing a "pardon".

Better idea (5, Insightful)

Feefers (985994) | about a year ago | (#42315377)

Prime Minister Cameron makes a general statement not just for Turing but for all those tortured and prosecuted under what we now rightly see was a terrible and cruel "law". Society has moved on and a bold declaration that not just Turing but all those convicted of crimes of this nature are considered to be pardoned would solidify how far we have progressed.

Re:Better idea (5, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#42315725)

Your better idea is already coming up.

When being gay was decriminalised, the existing criminal convictions were not stricken from the record, so there are still people in the UK with a criminal record for being gay even though it is not a crime.

Nice.

I believe a new law is being passed to unilaterally strick all convictions of such nature, leaving such people with a clean record.

Re:Better idea (0)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#42316087)

I have a better idea: we stop wasting precious time of busy people and let them do their work to fix actual problems.
Nothing good comes from dwelling on the past.

Re:Better idea (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#42316333)

I have a better idea: we stop wasting precious time of busy people and let them do their work to fix actual problems.

Aren't there other persons yet alive convicted of the "crime" that Turing was? As such, the problem is contemporary.

Nothing good comes from dwelling on the past.

Isn't there a famous quote about forgetting the past?

Properly convicted (5, Interesting)

swm (171547) | about a year ago | (#42315391)

... But as records of courts and justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.

—Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

Godwining it here (5, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about a year ago | (#42315395)

And the Germans don't need to apologize for the Holocaust since the Jews were put to death in what was at the time a lawful process.

I'm sorry, but blaming the rules is just another way to not acknowledge just how badly they fucked him over.

Re:Godwining it here (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315465)

And the Germans don't need to apologize for the Holocaust since the Jews were put to death in what was at the time a lawful process.

If they apologized specifically to one Jew without apologizing to all the others, I think that would be a bit off.

Re:Godwining it here (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42315527)

I'm sorry, but blaming the rules is just another way to not acknowledge just how badly they fucked him over.

They fucked over many people under that law. Why should Turing be the only one given a pardon?

Re:Godwining it here (4, Insightful)

lewscroo (695355) | about a year ago | (#42316123)

Turing surely shouldn't be the only one. But he's a damn good catalyst to get things going to pardon everyone prosecuted under such an unjust law. Do you think this would be brought up at Slashdot (or elsewhere) if the article said 'We need to Pardon Bob Smith for having committed the crime of being gay'?

Ill second your Godwining motion.... (0)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about a year ago | (#42315573)

And the Germans don't need to apologize for the Holocaust since the Jews were put to death in what was at the time a lawful process.

I'm sorry, but blaming the rules is just another way to not acknowledge just how badly they fucked him over.

Your point is valid, that legal behavior isn't necessarily moral behavior, and that admitting that he was wrongly prosecuted is implicitly suggesting that the people in power at the time were in the wrong. However, I don't actually believe that the Nazis ever actually bothered to legalize the murder of Jewish people under the legal system, they just went ahead and did it anyway. They didn't really bother with stuff like trials, for all but the most rare of cases. I'm sure that someone with more historical knowledge of the 1930s German court systems can add additional information to the thread, though.

Re:Ill second your Godwining motion.... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315645)

Jews were typically declared "enemies of the State" by the Nazis, allowing for their persecution. The reality was that it was the State which was the "enemy of the Jews."

Re:Godwining it here (0)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#42315775)

I'm normally a fan of Goodwining. Despite the bad rap it gets, it's a remarkably good way of pointing out that the logical conclusion of someone's ill thought idea is to (for example) support the position of the SS.

In this case, I disagree that a pardon should be issued.

A pardon is not the same as an apology, and does not serve the same purpose.

Re:Godwining it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315895)

It's Godwin, as in Godwin's Law.
So you're not really as big a fan as you claim since you can't be buggered to get it right. And if you are buggered at least you won't be charged by the Crown for it anymore!

Re:Godwining it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315847)

By apologizing you acknowledge guilt. The current generation of Germans had no influence on the actions (or lack thereof) of (some of) their ancestors, just like the current UK government had no influence on the laws that were in place over half a century ago (except perhaps those who are over the age of 77, as they were eligible to vote at that time). Admitting guilt for something you had no say in makes no sense and demanding apologies for such things is ridiculous.

Re:Godwining it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316239)

Its a sign and reminder to the current generation that braying about national pride and the history of the UK is more embarrassing than anything else.

Re:Godwining it here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315881)

If you have removed God as the source of morality and justice to make the case that homosexuality is not wrong,
then you no longer can logically argue that the Holocaust was wrong. All you can say is that it was legal, and
and we have a different standard now. If there's no moral authority outside of ourselves, then it's just different; not wrong.

Re:Godwining it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316285)

Which Germans? How much, how long and to whom. (genuine question)

Absolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315421)

The word of the day is Absolve. Not for the government but for the Crown and specifically the Queen to Absolve Turing
of all crimes moral, ethical, and physical.

absolve /bzälv/
Verb
Declare (someone) free from blame, guilt, or responsibility.
Give absolution for (a sin).

Re:Absolution (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42315709)

The Queen's job is conditioned upon her not actually doing anything. If she actually started to use the powers of her office... well, everyone loves the queen, she could probably get away with it. But the monarchy would be stripped of all power even on paper after that, and her successors would struggle to prevent a complete abolition.

Let it stand (3, Interesting)

swm (171547) | about a year ago | (#42315489)

I think they should let the conviction stand.
It is a reminder of how far we have come...and of how far we still have to go.

LOL fags (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315499)

Turing = fag. That butt-humping pervert deserved what he got. He's also burning in hell for all eternity for his sick perversions. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Re:LOL fags (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42315721)

Unsubtle, no decent hook line. Inept.

Zero out of five troll-points for you. Get back under your bridge until you've learned to do it properly.

Pardon? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315535)

Will God pardon him? If your a Christian, perhaps. But most likely not as he most likely never asked God for forgiveness of his sins nor would have received forgiveness.
As for the government, why pardon criminals that are guilty? A crime is a crime. Just because next year your country will legalize having sex with sheep, cows, babies, and any small creature that moves doesn't make it right today, ( or tomorrow for that fact).

Re:Pardon? (0)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#42315635)

Christianity, Islam and perhaps Judaism are about the only people that believe being gay is wrong as far as I can tell. These 3 religions basically worship the same god, and he hates gay people.

What other religions are against it?

Some Christians can tell that it's not right to persecute gay people though, and try to mess with the parts of the Bible that condemn man-sex, to bring it round to their own way of thinking. Kind of admirable, but still ultimately misguided..

Re:Pardon? (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#42315651)

Will God pardon him?

Of course not, your obvious homophobia makes it clear that this figment of your own imagination could never pardon him.

Re:Pardon? (1)

rbprbp (2731083) | about a year ago | (#42315697)

Just because next year your country will legalize having sex with sheep, cows, babies, and any small creature that moves doesn't make it right today, ( or tomorrow for that fact).

Slippery slope anyone?

Will God pardon him? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42316145)

Will God pardon him? If your a Christian, perhaps.

I certainly hope God's decision to pardon Turing is not based on my being a Christian.

Outrageous (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42315605)

I am about 40 years old, and for most of my life considered homosexuals to be somehow inferior with through genetics or lifestyle choice. My world view has changed quite a bit, mostly by seeing real-world homosexuals, and strangely enough a closeted homosexual who claimed to be "cured".

It is hard to put a date on when my view changed, but now I see how wrong I was and fully support same-sex marriage and make sure to show my support as a way of undoing some of the ignorance I helped spread.

In the same way, we have an opportunity to not just pardon Turing, but express just how wrong we were. It will never erase the harm, but it will help heal the wound.

Re:Outrageous (2)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | about a year ago | (#42316227)

As a queer person, thank you for A) being open to changing your mind and B) sharing that experience. As Dan Savage noted, most of the people who voted for marriage equality this past election were straight. I don't always agree with Savage, but here he was spot on: The LGBT community owes thanks to the straight allies, and I appreciate you weighing in on this /. discussion to speak your mind.

Oh for crying out loud... (5, Insightful)

Ga_101 (755815) | about a year ago | (#42315613)

I really do not get this "You must apologise for everything!" mentality that has sprung up over the past 15 years or so.

I'm from the UK. The UK has done some seriously horrible things in both it's distant and recent history.
While Turing is a personal tragedy, his story isn't even a blip on the radar of what has been carried out by my country in the grand scheme of horribleness.
Yes. Outlawing homosexuality is wrong. Leaving India, Ireland etc. to starve is wrong. Conquest at the barrel of a gun is wrong. Slavery is wrong. We get it. But, to be harsh, the current generation isn't really disputing any of that. Your beef is with the generations that have come before, rotting in their graves and if given their lives again, probably would have done the exact same thing.

What meaning does a pardon or an apology have if it is not from those that actually performed the act?
For it just smacks of the worst kind of tokenistic politics.

I for one am sick to death of meaningless apologising for the many and numerous mistakes of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on.
I have enough mistakes of my own to be accountable for.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about a year ago | (#42315785)

I think a better thing than a pardon, which is legally if not rhetorically problematic, would be a monument. This would be more meaningful.

It needn't be big, or central, or tremendously expensive. It could just be a quiet place people could go to, to pay their respects. The could read a bit of his story, and think about what he did, and about the other people these laws effected. Rather than being a divisive thing, it could be a place for healing or unburdening.

I know, this sounds stupid on the surface. But I'm thinking about the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington. It was very divisive at the onset. But it's the one place in DC that is truly quiet, and truly moving.

If you really want to do something respectful for his memory, recognize his sacrifice, make amends to his ghost - the monument is the way to go.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#42315811)

But, to be harsh, the current generation isn't really disputing any of that. Your beef is with the generations that have come before, rotting in their graves and if given their lives again, probably would have done the exact same thing.

Queen Elizabeth was crowned the year Turing was convicted. Now, the monarch is certainly not all powerful, but you can hardly say that the crime was committed by a generation of people long dead and buried when the head of state at the time remains the head of state today.

As for what's makes Turing such a special case that he personally deserves attention against a background of crimes committed to millions: He was one of the smartest, most influential people of his age, he laid the groundwork for modern computing, there is no telling what kinds of advances might have been possible in the world of computers if we had his insight for another few decades. And more than that, Turing was a fucking war hero. His work in code breaking and computer engineering saved countless allied lives during WWII. And how did his country repay him? Prosecution, insults, public humiliation, and finally castration. Because he had a consensual relationship with another man.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315971)

Name some other people in the UK who were powerful in 1953 and remain powerful today. I don't think you can.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (1)

Ga_101 (755815) | about a year ago | (#42316149)

I hate to point this out, but there were not many people in their mid twenties in any position of power in the 1950's.
That and the vast majority of Elizabeth II's generation are very much dead.

Thankfully old men die and attitudes change.
Unfortunately it often takes the old men dying for it happen.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315957)

It will help dispel the last vestiges of old prejuidices. In the same way I think a monument to all of the slain, enslaved and expelled Irish and Indians should be erected front and centre in Buckingham palace, Westminster, and outside number 10, so that the remaining prejuidices against all these people can likewise be let go of. And there's still plenty of it in jolly old engerlund.

Re:Oh for crying out loud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315965)

Yep I'm bloody sick of it too, and how far can it go? Should the Italians apologise for everything they, as Romans, did in their conquests? Should France apologise for Napoleon? Should Germany apologise for the Goths? Should Iran apologise for Persia? Iraq for Babylon? How about the Greeks?

Fuck all this apologising. If it's in recent memory, set it straight for those who are directly affected, but catering to their descendants is a fucking waste of time.

who gives a fuck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315625)

seriously. who gives a fuck? he's dead, who cares, move on. pardoning him has no real effect on today's world, so there's no need to do it.

Not just Turing... (3, Insightful)

hpa (7948) | about a year ago | (#42315629)

... but everyone ever convicted under this barbaric law should have their convictions expunged. Keep in mind there are probably some that are still alive, which makes it even more important.

Re:Not just Turing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316151)

Totally. The idea that we should be pardoning anything is silly; "we forgive you beacuse you were a great boffin"

It is us that should seek a pardon from Turing for inflicting such barbaric treatment on him. Him and every other poor soul we did it to.

And by "us" I don't mean any individuals born way after his death should feel personal remorse for it of course; we're citizens of a democratic state - that is the "us".

time to soundly rebuke homophobia? (3, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#42315641)

A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.

Don't let bigots hide behind this kind of sophistry; forget a pardon; let's have parliament declare that the law was inhumane, unjust, invalid, and that all convictions are vacated.

Nope, I don't live in the U.K. and don't know the legal process enough to fill in the details. However, the U.S. and British system share deep roots, so I expect that our concept of vacating a conviction has some parallel there. Here, it is normally done for egregious legal error during the trial, but I am sure that it could also be legislated...

Fine, we don't care if he was gay now... (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#42315673)

OK in 2012, everyone's cool with Turing being gay today...but honestly, when does this shit stop? Retroactive pardons? Retroactive suspension of the conviction and expunging of the record?

I agree in principle, but what's the Statute of Limitations on historical grievances? Can we just settle on one generation or 50 years, whichever is greater?

Or are we going to go through history and insist on apologies for everything everyone ever did wrong or had wrong done to them? Go back far enough and everyone's a victim of something at SOME point.

Because frankly, the very idea is colossally stupid.

It's not about the pardoning of a dead person (2, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42315883)

OK in 2012, everyone's cool with Turing being gay today...but honestly, when does this shit stop? Retroactive pardons? Retroactive suspension of the conviction and expunging of the record?

The problem is that the legal precedent stands and can be used to support future cases. I agree that apologizing to the dead is quite silly but changing bad legal precedent is an extremely good idea. The point is to prevent future acts of malice by the government. If we honor the contributions of the victim in the process then that is just a bonus.

Re:It's not about the pardoning of a dead person (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#42316105)

But hasn't the law been changed?

Homosexual acts were in fact illegal at the time. Setting aside the reasonability of the law itself, on a binary "did he or didn't he" basis he WAS guilty of breaking that law.

To suggest that we're overturning some sort of precedent is sort of moot if the law no longer exists, certainly, or am I misunderstanding?

On the other hand, and taking YOUR argument further, if we proceed along this course and (as seems quite likely, for example) marijuana is legalized generally, are we in fact setting a precedent that we have to retroactively pardon the 000's (if not 00's of 000's) of people cited/convicted/imprisoned for marijuana distribution/use? Worse, would such a precedent logically lead into some sort of claim for retroactive damages?

Re:It's not about the pardoning of a dead person (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316197)

There are people still alive who have standing convictions for this; at very least we should declare that they did nothing wrong other than love each other in spite of a climate of hatred against them.

Re:Fine, we don't care if he was gay now... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#42316167)

OK in 2012, everyone's cool with Turing being gay today...but honestly, when does this shit stop? Retroactive pardons? Retroactive suspension of the conviction and expunging of the record?

I agree in principle, but what's the Statute of Limitations on historical grievances? Can we just settle on one generation or 50 years, whichever is greater?

Or are we going to go through history and insist on apologies for everything everyone ever did wrong or had wrong done to them? Go back far enough and everyone's a victim of something at SOME point.

Because frankly, the very idea is colossally stupid.

Didn't one of the popes apologize for the crusades? Useful.

Reason why Turing cannot be pardoned (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42315817)

maybe because Law is not a Turing-complete Language?

Changing legal precedent (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42315859)

'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.'"

Lots of things are criminal offenses that should not be. The fact that it may have been the law at the time does not make it in any way justifiable. A pardon would hurt nothing, cost (almost) nothing, and show that we've evolved. While I think that apologizing to a dead person is a ridiculous idea, the idea of overturning a terrible legal precedent is not silly at all. In theory this verdict could be used to support future government sponsored lynchings if it is not overturned.

Re:Changing legal precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316181)

'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.'"

Lots of things are criminal offenses that should not be. The fact that it may have been the law at the time does not make it in any way justifiable. A pardon would hurt nothing, cost (almost) nothing, and show that we've evolved. While I think that apologizing to a dead person is a ridiculous idea, the idea of overturning a terrible legal precedent is not silly at all. In theory this verdict could be used to support future government sponsored lynchings if it is not overturned.

I don't think you understand the concept of precedent in English law. This is nothing to do with legal precedents. For one thing, he was convicted in a court that can't set precedents (only Appeals Courts and higher can). The fact that a criminal is pardoned for a crime doesn't cancel out any precedents set. A third factor is that he was only one of many, many men prosecuted for this crime, before and after his case, and his case involved no novel points of law or evidence. The law was morally unjust, but there have never been any suggestions that his particular case was unjust in the sense that he wasn't actually a homosexual, or hadn't done the acts he was accused of.

Turing was convicted under a Victorian-era statute law, passed by Parliament, that unequivocally criminalised various male homosexual acts. This statute law was repealed a few decades after his death by another statute law. Explicit statutes over-ride precedents. There is no question that homosexual acts were undeniably illegal in the 1950s, and no question that they certainly aren't now.

Re:Changing legal precedent (2)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#42316283)

A pardon doesn't affect legal precedent at all, since it's a special exception. Pardoning Turing could just mean he did important work unlike the typical gay who deserved to be punished; or it could mean that Turning was framed, and wasn't actually gay. Even the symbolic meaning is ambiguous, since while it draws attention to past injustice, it sort of nullifies it at the same time.

How about a general pardon? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42315887)

How about a general policy of offering general clemency to anyone at any time in history who was convicted or punished for a crime which would not be an offense today or if it was, its maximum sentence or "severity" would be less today than what the person received?

In other words, don't give Turing special treatment, extend the pardon to everyone who faced similar charges in similar circumstances.

Tell that to black people. (3, Insightful)

lewscroo (695355) | about a year ago | (#42315943)

Yeah, that's why I think runaway slaves should be and forever will be looked upon poorly. I mean, they knew what they were doing was against the law. Harriet Tubman was just a lawbreaker and enabler for those criminals, plain and simple. And Rosa Parks was just a troublemaker who deserved to go to jail. And those stupid interracial couples daring to love each other when the laws clearly stated that wasn't allowed. Don't you know two consenting adults can't just go around having sex with whomever they want and think that the government shouldn't be punishing you for it. (sorry I don't know British equivalents though I am sure there are plenty)

Re:Tell that to black people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316273)

Whether you realize it or not, your strawman argument makes you a shill for the law that Turing was convicted of violating.

Either argue againt the flaws in the government's actual position, or just come right out and admit that you really do hate gays. Either way, stop lying.

Goodness Gracious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42316009)

I am deeply saddened to hear the news that Justice Minister Lord McNally is an asshat. I humbly propose a petition in which it is requested of the British Government to formally rescind the title of "Lord" from this individual. A title of such distinction should not be accorded to asshats.

Non-speak (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | about a year ago | (#42316125)

"A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense."

That's what pardons are for!

Why Turing, and where do we stop? (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about a year ago | (#42316259)

What makes Turing any different from any other person who was convicted of this offence back when it was illegal?

I'm aware of his work on the Enigma machines and he is quite rightly recognised for this, but a person's achievements should have no bearing on how they are treated in the eyes of the law. If we go ahead and pardon Turing, we must go ahead and pardon everyone else who was convicted under the same legislation.

Similarly, what makes the law against homosexuality any different or any worse than other laws which have changed over the years?

If you follow this idea to its logical conclusion, then we must surely go ahead and pardon anyone whoever lived, who was ever convicted of something which is no longer a crime. And of course, a formal process would need to be created to ensure that pardons are issued in the future if and when we change other laws.

So I've nothing against pardoning Turing and would probably consider it a good idea. I just feel it's important that we act in a consistent manner and understand the consequences which would come with such a solution.

invalid argument (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42316275)

> 'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.'

...but that's exactly what a pardon is for -- forgiveness of a crime. It's acknowledgement that a crime was committed, and that the crime is forgiven. How does "properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense" have any bearing at all?

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