Monday, 29 July 2013

Alan Turing: Tragedy

Many people are familiar with what happened to Alan Turing: the national hero and genius of the first order who was prosecuted in 1952 because of his homosexuality and “chemically castrated” as a sanction of the state. And following this conviction and punishment, he was to apparently kill himself two years later aged only 41. 
The immensity of his intellectual accomplishments and his crucial contribution to the war effort make the prosecution of Turing and its aftermath seem a particular tragedy. Something very badly went wrong, and that wrong needs to be righted. Indeed, as Jack Goode, a colleague of Turing at Bletchley Park, said:
“It was a good thing the authorities hadn’t known Turing was a homosexual during the war, because if they had, they would have fired him…and we would have lost”.
But how can we right the wrong did to Alan Turing? One way is to be clear about the actual wrong which was done to him, and the starting point for this would be to look closely at the law he was prosecuted under and the facts of his case. And by looking at the wrong done to Turing it becomes stark that many others suffered the same wrong and that a pardon just for Turing will not address this...

Good piece by David Allen Green in the New Statesman on the elitist pointless gesture politics of the Alan Turing pardon.
As I've said before - although lacking the powers of clairvoyance - I'm sure Alan Turing would have found all this rather embarrassing and a waste of all our time.
If you want to honour Alan Turing, then continue his work; fight fascism and try to advance human understanding.
Stuff like that and shit, yeah?

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