Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 11th Sep 2009 20:18 UTC
In the News The British government has issued an official apology for the treatment Alan Turing received after WWII. "The Prime Minister has released a statement on the Second World War code-breaker, Alan Turing, recognising the 'appalling' way he was treated for being gay. Alan Turing, a mathematician most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes, was convicted of 'gross indecency' in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration. Gordon Brown's statement came in response to a petition posted on the Number 10 website which has received thousands of signatures in recent months."
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Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Fri 11th Sep 2009 20:47 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Darn, I was going to post this earlier today, but I decided against it. :/ Need to be more certain of myself.

Reply Score: 1

'bout time
by kragil on Fri 11th Sep 2009 20:59 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

I guess the democracy he defended wasn't all it said it was. Better late than never I guess.

In other news the German parliament pardoned all German WWII AWOL soldiers (deserters?) from their "crime".

Sometimes you wonder ..

Reply Score: 3

Election
by PLan on Fri 11th Sep 2009 21:41 UTC
PLan
Member since:
2006-01-10

Not too long now Gordon until the general election, no ulterior motive I'm sure.

As for Turing his tragic life, and sexuality, seems to attract hyperbole.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Election
by Hypnos on Sat 12th Sep 2009 02:17 UTC in reply to "Election "
Hypnos Member since:
2008-11-19

Brown's motives not withstanding, what in the depictions of Turing's life do you consider to be hyperbolic?

Reply Score: 1

I was following this rather closely
by google_ninja on Fri 11th Sep 2009 21:57 UTC
google_ninja
Member since:
2006-02-05

Alan Turing was one of the greatest minds in recent history, without his existence the world today would be vastly different then it is now. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if he had actually lived a full life.

Reply Score: 3

SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

I agree 100%. Like you, I followed this petition very closely. I even posted it on facebook to try and get my British friends and family to sign it. I was more than please with the amount of people who reacted with shock and outrage once they learned what had been done to this great man.

I was also surprised by the amount of people who actually knew the name. Mind you, they where mostly the younger generation but that in itself can hardly be considered strange as IT is being taught at younger ages these days. One even said he was the Lemmy of computer science (as in Motorhead :-).

Having done so much for our field in such a short amount of time, I too wonder just what other breakthroughs he could have achieved had he only lived longer. But even if he hadn't, he still deserved better than being driven to suicide.

Reply Score: 3

tobyv Member since:
2008-08-25

Like all the other pioneers in the field, he would have gone on to work at Google.

A Turing-complete Google would be formidable ;)

Edited 2009-09-12 00:13 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Ummmm...
by tomcat on Sat 12th Sep 2009 02:18 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

I think it's laudable that the British government accepted culpability for their treatment of Turing; however, really, what's the point? Turing has been dead for over 50 years. I mean, with that logic, why not apologize to Ghandi for colonizing India ... to Sir Walter Raleigh for beheading him ... to the Palestinians for the Crusades ... etc, etc. I'm sure that we can all think of things that the British (and other countries) did wrong but, at some point, you have to simply absorb it as an artifact of history -- and learn from it. It's what we do NOW that matters. Apologizing shouldn't be about scoring political points, which I think is what Brown is doing here, trying to curry favor with narrow constituencies...

Edited 2009-09-12 02:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ummmm...
by jesuit on Sat 12th Sep 2009 03:56 UTC in reply to "Ummmm..."
jesuit Member since:
2009-09-12

Agree. I'll recognize that homophobics during the 50s were assholes. And I'd expect others to say yeah that was B.S. Only those that are responsible can and need to apologize.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Ummmm...
by Kroc on Sat 12th Sep 2009 07:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Ummmm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Homophobia and racism were also largely a cultural thing too at the time and cannot be blamed on individuals. You have to understand that your average person on the street 'knew' that blacks were inferior people. It was an embodied cultural meme.

I have had the fortune of a 70 year old man explain to me that even though he isn’t racist in the slightest, his childhood still has an impact him as he grew up in a time where 'it was common knowledge that blacks were inferior'. That was the social climate, and you can’t blame individuals in this case for widespread and accepted ignorance; just as we—today—have the exact same widespread and accepted ignorance when it comes to Muslims and other religions &c.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Ummmm...
by Gone fishing on Sat 12th Sep 2009 12:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ummmm..."
Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

just as we—today—have the exact same widespread and accepted ignorance when it comes to Muslims and other religions &c.


OK I agree with the sentiment but.... it's not the same sex, race and gender(?) are innate – religion is not it is a system of ideas that claims to describe the nature of the universe, human morality, purpose etc. religious ideas contradict other religious ideas and non religious ideas. Some ideas are right (or at least more right) and describe the world etc accurately (or at least more accurately) others do not.

I see no reason to respect the ideas that someone has in there head simply because they have them, particularly if they have poor evidence for them and are not open to change. Respecting a person because he is Muslim, Mormon or Maoist make no sense to me.

Oh – I feel that it's a good thing that the British Government offers an apology to Turing, even if I don't trust there motives.

Reply Score: 5

Even in our so called...
by mrhasbean on Sat 12th Sep 2009 10:32 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

...tolerant society those who don't conform to the norm when it comes to sexuality are victimised. We can fool ourselves by saying that we accept alternate sexual orientations but in reality some are "tolerated to a degree" rather than accepted, while others are downright shunned and even criminalised or victimised - and the rules change depending on what part of the world you're in. This despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that sexuality is something that we are born with, not a learned behaviour.

Is it any wonder there are such high suicide rates amongst non-"straight" young people - who know from a very early age what their sexuality is - when they have to hide through fear of victimisation? Where I live the age of consent is 16 - unless you're a homosexual male, in which case it's 18 - and this is somehow NOT discrimination. I've never tolerated discrimination based on sexual orientation from my children and in their circle of friends they have people with alternate sexual orientations - unfortunately changing the way our governments / media (insert either, they are one and the same) portray anything other than "straight" orientation is a seemingly impossible task, especially when it comes to the sexual orientation of young people.

Sorry about the rant, but when you've known a young person who took their life because of victimisation due to sexual orientation it tends to become a "raw nerve" subject. And in a similar vein to Alan, who knows what great things that young person could have gone on to accomplish in their life...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Even in our so called...
by Kochise on Sat 12th Sep 2009 11:57 UTC in reply to "Even in our so called..."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Sexual orientation never affect brain capabilities. And if so, if obviously affect it positively, according to the numerous known gay politicians, engineers, actors, musicians, etc...

Kochise

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Even in our so called...
by WereCatf on Sat 12th Sep 2009 20:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Even in our so called..."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Sexual orientation never affect brain capabilities. And if so, if obviously affect it positively, according to the numerous known gay politicians, engineers, actors, musicians, etc...

It is quite interesting, actually. I have dozens of non-straight friends and they all seem very smart, most of them are actually really talented in the ways of arts..I wonder if there has ever been any studies made about general intelligence levels of non-straight people.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Even in our so called...
by mrhasbean on Sun 13th Sep 2009 22:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Even in our so called..."
mrhasbean Member since:
2006-04-03

It is quite interesting, actually. I have dozens of non-straight friends and they all seem very smart, most of them are actually really talented in the ways of arts..I wonder if there has ever been any studies made about general intelligence levels of non-straight people.


Such a study would never see the light of day - and if it did it would quickly be "disproved" by some "official government" study, and then disappear never to be seen again. There have been many independent studies using untainted samples that disprove much of what we hold as truth about sex and sexuality but most of these have progressively disappeared off the internet over the past few years.

It's not something we're allowed to know...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Even in our so called...
by Soulbender on Mon 14th Sep 2009 02:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Even in our so called..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

And if so, if obviously affect it positively, according to the numerous known gay politicians, engineers, actors, musicians, etc...


Then being straight obviously also affect the brain capacity positively according to the numerous straight politicians, engineers, actors, musicians etc.
Maybe we should just face the fact that being non-straight has nothing at all to do with the brain capacity.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Even in our so called...
by Kochise on Mon 14th Sep 2009 20:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Even in our so called..."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

I also wanted to notice that if there is no evidence of difference, then why making it such a big deal currently ? Anyway, thanks Alan for the help...

Kochise

Reply Score: 1

RE: Even in our so called...
by MamiyaOtaru on Sat 12th Sep 2009 19:01 UTC in reply to "Even in our so called..."
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

even in our so called tolerant society those who don't conform to the norm when it comes to sexuality are victimised.

No doubt. Look at all the hate polygamists get

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Even in our so called...
by evangs on Sun 13th Sep 2009 07:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Even in our so called..."
evangs Member since:
2005-07-07

"even in our so called tolerant society those who don't conform to the norm when it comes to sexuality are victimised.

No doubt. Look at all the hate polygamists get
"

Or those who practice abstinence before marriage.

Edited 2009-09-13 07:42 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Even in our so called...
by Soulbender on Mon 14th Sep 2009 02:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Even in our so called..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Or those who practice abstinence before marriage.


Or those who don't.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Even in our so called...
by AtariFan on Wed 16th Sep 2009 18:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Even in our so called..."
AtariFan Member since:
2009-01-15

" No doubt. Look at all the hate polygamists get
Or those who practice abstinence before marriage. "
Do you wicked troll refer to the prostitutes of America's religious right?
Practising abstinence before marriage and campaigning for abstinence with lies are not the same.
Concerning Alan Turing, I've read Robert Harris novel "Enigma" about Turing and a Bletchley Codebreaker (proudly: In English) and and appreciated it very much.
Sad story with Turing. Right decision by Gordon Brown.

Reply Score: 1

He was a brilliant man...
by Tuishimi on Sun 13th Sep 2009 15:26 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

...Shame he was treated badly. As far as governments offering apologies for something that happened generations ago... not so sure. They have plenty to apologize about TODAY for people they are doing a disservice to NOW instead of worrying about people who are deceased, and whose peers are deceased.

Reply Score: 2

RE: He was a brilliant man...
by darknexus on Sun 13th Sep 2009 15:31 UTC in reply to "He was a brilliant man..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I guess dealing with dead people is more convenient, after all the living just might want reparations not just an apology. The dead never speak out, and won't cause trouble for the government's propaganda department.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: He was a brilliant man...
by Tuishimi on Mon 14th Sep 2009 03:27 UTC in reply to "RE: He was a brilliant man..."
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Aye.

Reply Score: 2

Turing the man
by transputer_guy on Mon 14th Sep 2009 14:16 UTC
transputer_guy
Member since:
2005-07-08

While Turing is considered favorably today and the apology is long overdue, what about all the other forgotten heroes of British computing during those war days.

If you read up on the people at Bletchely Park that actually built the code cracking machines and later computing machines, you will find some interesting tidbits from the trenches. All of these engineers were forced to keep their mouths shut for fear of severe retribution from the state for 50 years.

Some of the lead engineers say they never even heard of AT, or vaguely remember him popping around the lab on occasion. From that I gather that AT is not the father of hardware computing at all, just one of many academics in the field who had a more infamous history perhaps because of his short life but also because of the famous theorems.

If AT had never existed we might not have those theories and would be the poorer for it, but we would certainly still have the computing hardware we have today. His work really only effected the theoretical side of CS.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Turing the man
by B12 Simon on Tue 15th Sep 2009 10:51 UTC in reply to "Turing the man"
B12 Simon Member since:
2006-11-08

They are heroes, it's true but most weren't driven to suicide by state-sponsored homophobia.


On the subject of Bletchley Park, I read this recently:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Code-Breakers-World-War/dp/071532280...

It's an absolutely fascinating read about the work that went on.

Reply Score: 2