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Alan Turing Pardoned 415

Posted by samzenpus
from the least-we-could-do dept.
First time accepted submitter a.ferrier writes "Today's computing would be unthinkable without the contributions of the British mathematician Alan Turing, who laid down the foundations of computer science, broke Nazi codes that helped win World War II at the famous Bletchley Park, created a secure speech encryption system, made major contributions to logic and philosophy, and even invented the concept of Artificial Intelligence. But he was also an eccentric and troubled man who was persecuted (and prosecuted) for being gay, a tragedy that contributed to his suicide just short of the age of 42 when he died of cyanide poisoning, possibly from a half-eaten apple found by his side. He is hailed today as one of the great originators of our computing age. Today he received a royal pardon."
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Alan Turing Pardoned

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  • 24th? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @06:34PM (#45770261)

    So how come it's dated for tomorrow, and wonky, and badly spelled?

  • That's great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @06:35PM (#45770267)

    Now he can start enjoying life, oh wait, we're just trying to make people feel good. move along, there is nothing here

  • Alan Turing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Monday December 23, 2013 @06:40PM (#45770311) Journal
    Alan is one of the smartest people on this planet. The way he was treated is a direct display of our inhumanity. He is on my wall now, framed in gold, hanging on my silk-spun wall of fame (not that it matters to anyone), but I will forever remember him as one of the most important mathematicians of his time and even our time. I've placed him next to Benoit Mandelbrot for a reason (can you figure out why?).

    We as a species are very different when it comes to our mind, our culture, our background. People will always be treated according to the common public's belief, religion or politics no matter what science tells us.

    I know this, because just as Alan, I am as different as the rest of you. But you would hate me for who I am, and if you knew, you would love me, as would you love your next of kin, and everyone around you...if you grew a little...kind of like Alan, but there is a time for everything, and hopefully...we're nearing that time...when you can discern between science and religion, and understand that the world is so much more.
  • Re:Not enough, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Monday December 23, 2013 @06:46PM (#45770369)

    A pardon removes a conviction.
    A conviction defines guilt.
    So the pardon removes guilt.

    Guilt is not a fact. Guilt is simply a societal pronouncement.

  • Re:Not enough, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ImdatS (958642) on Monday December 23, 2013 @07:15PM (#45770615) Homepage

    He pleaded that he "did have an intimate relationship with a man" (to paraphrase). Whether that is guilt and/or criminal is decided by others not him.

    The fact that laws at that time defined this action as criminal does not make it criminal per se. Laws are supposed to be as just as possible and not necessarily always reflect current morals. If we accept current morals as the benchmark for laws, we are doomed to never develop as a species... we should aspire to have ethics as the basis for laws, not current morals...

    In Germany, e.g., any (even consensual) sexual relationship between a man (over 18) and a male person (under 18, even if it was over 16) was illegal under criminal law. But the same didn't apply for a man over 18 and a woman between 16-18 as long as it was consensual. This was the case until mid 1980's - it wasn't fair, it wasn't just - it was just a law. Laws are there to be changed and adapted to be more just. We learn. This doesn't mean mean that we should not condemn old laws that created so much injustice....

    He was not guilty under a just law - he was guilt because the law was unjust... there are too many examples in our history to cite - without even calling on Godwin's Law - for which we should be ashamed as humanity and make sure that they never happen again.

  • Re:Not enough, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Monday December 23, 2013 @08:06PM (#45770939) Homepage

    The fact that laws at that time defined this action as criminal does not make it criminal per se.

    Actually, that's exactly what it does. Lawbreaking (and conviction) is what makes an act criminal.

    Whether or not a law is just, morally right, or ethical (all different things, by the way) has no bearing on whether violation of the law makes you a criminal.

    He was convicted of a crime. Ego, by definition, he was a criminal. He was unjustly convicted of an crime against the moral standards of the time as defined in law. Today we see that law as unethical, and pardoning him posthumously is the only just action we can take. However, we should extend the same pardon to anyone convicted under the same crime. His patriotism and contributions to computing shouldn't be the driving argument for his individual pardon.

  • Re:Not enough, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Monday December 23, 2013 @08:31PM (#45771107)

    Ahh, but that's a different situation. The Church didn't condemn Galileo for violating a Law of Man, but for blaspheming against the Inviolable Law of God. Once they finally admitted that the Earth does in fact go around the sun it follows that in their ignorance it was *they* who were the blasphemers, and as such an apology to the man who they condemned for being a herald of truth is completely fitting.

  • Re:Not enough, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by damnbunni (1215350) on Monday December 23, 2013 @09:39PM (#45771571) Journal

    Usually these 'weird laws' turn out to be not so weird.

    When you investigate them, generally the 'weird law' is an overly specific interpretation of a law that's perfectly sensible. For example, one list had a town in Montana where it's illegal to tie a whale to a fire hydrant. When you track down the law, it bans tying any animal to a fire hydrant - so yes, tying a whale to one WOULD be illegal, but the law wasn't written that way.

    I'm willing to bet the Oklahoma issue is much the same - a ban on feeding animals alcohol. I bet it was done because of health issues with pigs being fed brewery leftovers, or something like that.

  • Incest (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @01:05AM (#45772853) Homepage Journal

    One question we could have now, with the advent of same sex marriage, is why incest laws should be followed with same sex marriages. There's no logical reason why I should not be able to marry my son, brother, or father, except for people thinking it's weird.

    Marriage pretty much implies consummation. Heterosexual consummation, barring 100% effective birth control, with someone that closely related can (very likely will) produce offspring with significant genetic anomalies. Incest laws are really pretty well established as worthy; people with these kinds of genetic anomalies tend to not benefit from the differences. Heterosexual incest (and I'm talking blood relationship here, not step-anything) isn't a good idea and it won't become reasonable until or unless we can develop absolutely certain remediation for the genetic problems it causes.

    Almost all the other ideas stigmatizing consenting, informed human relationships that have been codified into legislation -- anti-gay, anti-polygamy, anti-polyandry, anti-flirting, etc. -- are the result of superstitious and/or repressive thinking and should go away ASAP. Further, formal contracts should be enforced by the state, and other than that, the state should entirely butt out of personal relationships.

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