Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things that make me go "huh?"

Petition Demanding Apology and Recognition of Computer Scientist Alan Turing
Thousands of people have signed a petition to Downing Street demanding an apology be on the record regarding computer scientist Alan Turing who was defamed by the British Government.

Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. He laid the foundations of computing, helped break the Nazi Enigma code and told us how to tell whether a machine could think.

He was also gay. He was prosecuted for being gay, chemically castrated as a 'cure', and took his own life, at the age of 41.

The British Government should apologize to Alan Turing for his treatment and recognize that his work created much of the world we live in and saved us from Nazi Germany. And an apology would recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career.
Um ... not quite sure what to say about this. First of all, Alan Turing is recognized for his contributions in computer science circles. I am truly sorry for how he was treated leading him to take his own life. However, isn't that how all discovered gays were treated at that time in history? Is there any particular reason Alan Turing deserves an apology but none of the other gay people who were similarly treated?

There is the old saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana); however, we also need to make sure that we don't live in the past - we need to live in the here and now.

I guess I just don't "get it". What can possibly be gained by someone - who wasn't involved, perhaps not even alive at the time - offering an apology for something that happened in the distant past?

The U.K is a progressive country. Homosexuals can legally marry. Gay celebrities, such as Elton John, John Barrowman, and others are honored, even revered. I'm sure that homophobia is not absent - but they are moving in the right direction for total inclusion. So what is the point of digging up the past?


Kengo Biddles said...

It's the same motivation as the whole Mountain Meadows thing -- it serves a political purpose, and it serves as a means to get the current government (be it church or state) to strike a position on the subject in a more public way.

I doubt this is the motivation (or at least not the ENTIRE motivation), but that's probably part of it.

David Baker-@DB389 said...

that is one of my favorite quotes BTW, but I love the modification even better.

"Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn history correctly... why they are simply doomed."