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Tony Grist

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Alan Turing [Feb. 9th, 2012|12:37 pm]
Tony Grist
Quite right too.

Retrospective pardons should only be issued where there has been a miscarriage of justice- where new evidence proves that a person was innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. This isn't the case with Turing. As the law stood then he was guilty as charged. As the law stands now there is nothing to pardon. How can the Law pardon a person for doing something that is no longer a crime? By changing the law we have already exonerated him- just as we have exonerated all the witches we hung and all the kids we transported for stealing loaves of bread. 

Turing's conviction is an historical fact. Nothing we do now can change what happened. It cannot make Turing any less of a victim or the Law that pursued him any less cruel.  If the people who harrassed him were to say they were sorry it might mean something, but they're all as dead as he is. A very bad thing was done to a man who was both a scientific genius and a hero of the Second World War. We should have been feteing him; instead we drove him to an early grave. It's a blot on our history- and we're going to have to live with it. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2012-02-09 01:00 pm (UTC)
I don't know if this has been done, but perhaps a very public and formal apology that states "This was a terrible law and it had terrible consequences, and we have since recognized this and gotten rid of the law, and we sincerely and truly apologize to Mr. Turing and his family" might make everyone feel just a wee bit better about the entire affair.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 01:07 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure we should feel better about this.

There's a fashion for issuing apologies for historical injustices. I'm not a fan. It's too easy. If the victims and perpetrators are still alive it's different, but when they're not I think we have to swallow hard and accept our collective guilt.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2012-02-09 01:17 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I should have been clearer.

By "everyone" I meant Turing's family, the homosexual community, those interested in social justice - and not literally "everyone."

I didn't mean that an apology would whitewash things or should erase guilt, rather that a public acknowledgement of wrongdoing is always a good thing. It is a validation to those wronged to hear the words "This was wrong, it was bad, and we're sorry."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 02:26 pm (UTC)
One problem I have with public apologies is that there are just so many things we could be apologising for on behalf of our ancestors. Where do we draw the line? When do we stop?
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2012-02-09 02:35 pm (UTC)
It's a good question. For me, I think, it's a question of magnitude. If a crime affects the well-being of many people or caused (and still causes) anguish and pain for a lot of people, then I think some sort of "What happened here was a bad thing" is good. If for nothing else than making it clear that we know it was bad and that we don't want anything similar to ever happen again.

We are not responsible for what our ancestors did - but being able to admit and acknowledge that something they did was reprehensible does send a message, I think, as to our dedication to ensuring we don't do it again.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 02:55 pm (UTC)
The Queen of England recently laid a wreath at a Republican memorial in Ireland. It wasn't exactly an apology- more like a gesture of reconciliation. That, I'm prepared to believe, did some good.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2012-02-12 03:32 am (UTC)
I think acknowledging that past deeds were reprehensible is good and necessary. Making efforts to ensure it doesn't happen again, as well as trying to mitigate any present-day damage that may have been a result of those actions, is also a good thing.

I just don't like when people make actual apologies for things they didn't do. You can't apologize on someone else's behalf. And you shouldn't apologize for things you had nothing to do with.
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[User Picture]From: qatsi
2012-02-09 09:45 pm (UTC)
Something of the sort was done a couple of years ago. Even that made me feel uneasy; I don't think anyone really benefits from it. All we can say is that we now consider what happened to be wrong.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'd forgotten about that. When politicians make these kind of gestures (which don't actually cost them anything) you can't help wondering whether they're not just angling for votes.

The proposal to give Turing a posthumous knighthood is grotesque. How can they be sure he'd have accepted it? Plenty don't. We shouldn't mess about like this with the dead. They're not our playthings. I find it profoundly disrespectful.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2012-02-09 01:02 pm (UTC)
I tend to agree - although an apology by someone representing the state might still be appropriate. Cameron's apology for Bloody Sunday springs to mind, and there are other examples across the world. Such things may be merely symbolic, but they seem to matter to many of the victims and those who care about them.

On a more general point, I don't like the term 'Pardon', which sounds as if the state is being terribly magnanimous, when all it's doing is admitting it was in the wrong. In such cases, the state shouldn't be granting a pardon; it should be asking for one. As Turing isn't here to give it, perhaps the state could make amends (both for passing a cruel law and for enforcing it cruelly) in some way of which he would have approved?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 01:55 pm (UTC)
Maybe he should be commemorated in Westminster Abbey- like Oscar Wilde. That's one way in which the establishment indicates it would like bygones to be bygones.

I agree about "Pardon". The state shouldn't get away with feeling it's doing anyone a favour.

I think apologies mean more if the people being apologised to are still alive, which was the case with Bloody Sunday.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2012-02-09 04:06 pm (UTC)
I think apologies mean more if the people being apologised to are still alive, which was the case with Bloody Sunday.

True, but as far as I can see it was also appreciated by at least some of the relatives of those who were killed on that day. It's inadequate, but slightly better than nothing.

Edited at 2012-02-09 08:54 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2012-02-09 03:53 pm (UTC)
I must totally agree with you. Turing was an absolute genius and hero of the last great war. He should have feted but we have a bad history of recognising genuises.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 04:09 pm (UTC)
Of course we weren't allowed to know about Bletchley Park until long after Turing's death.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-02-09 04:44 pm (UTC)
By changing the law we have already exonerated him- just as we have exonerated all the witches we hung and all the kids we transported for stealing loaves of bread.

I don't know; a comprehensive apology to all the men who were ever prosecuted under this particular unjust law—some of whom will still, unlike Turing, be alive to hear it—would be a good thing by me.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-09 05:24 pm (UTC)
Maybe. I'm not against it. But who would make the apology? If the Queen did it I'd be impressed. If Mr Cameron did it not so much.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-02-10 11:33 am (UTC)
Nonetheless, for decency's sake, it should be done.

With all due respect, you are not gay and whether such a gesture would impress you is largely irrelevant.
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