Linked by David Adams on Mon 25th Jun 2012 19:32 UTC, submitted by Adurbe
In the News The BBC reports on a Turing scholar's recent claims that by today's standard of evidence, there's reason to doubt the commonly-held belief that the famed computing pioneer committed suicide in response to government persecution over his homosexuality. To be clear, he does not claim to have disproved the suicide theory -- only that the cyanide poisoning that killed Turing could well have been an accident caused by his careless at-home experimentation with dangerous chemicals.
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um... rule of law?
by _score on Tue 26th Jun 2012 03:28 UTC
_score
Member since:
2012-06-26

Have to disagree with the interpretations of some of the article: the UK government would not have had the capacity to shield Turing from prosecution. That's confusing the relationship between the different functions of government, and the basic principle of the common law that everyone domestically (except for, in limited circumstances, the Queen) has to be equally vulnerable to the law.

It's like - if he had been a murderer, no-one would have sought to protect him. Homosexual acts (not homosexuality per se - another error) were equally illegal at the time, we just think of them in a different way now. It's a bit much to expect politics to interfere with judicial decisions, and at that point you're reaching an American rather than Commonwealth system of justice.

Talking of which - Von Braun never committed crimes within US jurisdiction: his protection was from publicity, rumour, and innuendo, not the legal system. That's a fundamental difference between the cases.

Reply Score: 5

RE: um... rule of law?
by JAlexoid on Tue 26th Jun 2012 10:27 in reply to "um... rule of law?"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Bull****, they could easily have shielded him from almost anything. The prosecutor's office could have "lost" the proof, because the prosecution is is under the power of the executive branch.

Von Braun never committed crimes within US jurisdiction

Those crimes were post-factum classified as war crimes, thus he could have been easily prosecuted in US.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: um... rule of law?
by zima on Tue 26th Jun 2012 10:39 in reply to "RE: um... rule of law?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Plus the US hurriedly shipped Von Braun from the area where he could be more readily, I imagine, apprehended and tried. If that's not protection...

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: um... rule of law?
by _score on Tue 26th Jun 2012 16:57 in reply to "RE: um... rule of law?"
_score Member since:
2012-06-26

That's ridiculous. They could have lost the proof? The army could also have shot the judge, because they're under the control of the executive branch!

That something could notionally and illegally have happened does not mean it was a viable option. What you are proposing is that governmental officials should have committed a crime to protect a guilty individual on the basis of his war service, while also ignoring one of the most fundamental principles of English law.

Whether we believe that what was a crime then should never have been a crime is irrelevant: reduced to principles, that is what you are saying should have happened. The law must be equal in its application, and there is a reason why Justice is blindfolded.

Reply Parent Score: 2