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  1. #1
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    Alan Turing Gets an Apology

    Alan Turing. You may not have heard of him, but without him there's a good chance you wouldn't be reading this. A computer pioneer and the man responsible for breaking the German Enigma codes during World War 2 at Bletchley Park Code Centre, yesterday recieved an official apology from Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister almost sixty years after he took his own life. In 1952 he was chemically castrated for being homosexual by the then government and two years later committed suicide. He was 41.

    BROWN'S APOLOGY

    This has come about all because of an online petition asking for an official posthumous apology to him and recognition of the wrong done to him.

    I think a 55 year late 'sorry' is the least a government can do for a man whom arguably without, WW2 may have taken years longer to win, if at all, and contributed enormously to the development of artificial intelligence and the modern computer. An apology for a man who was treated abominably by the state all because of who he loved.

    Thanks to Elwell, who originally pointed me toward this.

    Petition: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/turing/

    Alan Turing on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing

    BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8249792.stm

    Bletchley Park: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/
    Last edited by Aly Fell; September 11th, 2009 at 06:43 AM. Reason: splenilg


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  4. #2
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    About damn time...

    Just goes to show how absurd majority's norms of morality can be.
    Seriously... "A guy loved a guy, so let's either kill him or forcibly castrate him [or both, as it turned out], after all - it's a good thing to do!"

  5. #3
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    Interesting that we think of our society as "civilised" when that happened only 55 years ago.

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  7. #4
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    It's great this man is getting some recognition after being mistreated, but it seems wrong regardless. Shall we also get Gordon to apologize for Cromwell executing the king? Or apologize to the French for repeatedly fighting wars with them? Why don't we repay India with all the stuff we took from them over 100 years ago? I guess "how far back does our responsibility reach to?" is a more fitting question.

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    Responsibility at the very least goes back as far as conscience allows, and Brown is at last recognising the fact that a man who contributed immeasurably to the second world war and modern technology as we know it was rewarded by being sterilised and disenfranchised. This is recent history, very recent.

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    Holy shit, finally... I thought the world forgot about him

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    I think it was right to express regret for this terrible travesty. It's remarkable the double standards of the times. Everyone knew that people like Cecil Beaton and Noel Coward were gay but they were accepted in society. Perhaps crossing the class barrier was more to do with it. Turing's story echoes that of Oscar Wilde, a great genius brought down by his own human frailty (attraction to an unworthy scallywag who was nothing but trouble) and by the prevailing prejudices of society. They were both prosecuted under the same legislation. It seems most barbaric that in the 50s the convict was offered a choice between prison and chemical castration. The sentence would not have exceeded a year, however. British statutes of the period were therefore rather liberal compared to what passes for law presently in Arabia and Iran, where sodomy is still a capital crime. (Oddly there was apparently never any law in England against being a lesbian!)

    The scandal of the Cambridge spies, during the Cold War had also caused a degree of paranioa about security risks involving homosexuals with access to state secrets, who might be vulnerable to blackmail. Turing probably had the misfortune of getting caught up in a backlash to that.

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    About goddamn time. Seriously, this happened 55 years ago?

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    Sterilise the smart guy while morons are reproducing in droves. Brilliant.

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  14. #10
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    Sterilizing gays is a stroke of genius. We don't want them breeding!

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    A posthumous apology is the least he deserves.

    Although, to clear up what seems to be a common misconception, "chemical castration" isn't actually a form of sterilization. The name is misleading. It's a drug program that lowers one's libido, usually used on sex offenders so that they don't feel as compelled to have sex. It's not that they didn't want Turing to breed, it's that they wanted him to stop wanting to have sex with men. Once the treatment finishes, everything goes back to normal (although it obviously will end up affecting people psychologically, and may cause men to grow breasts).

    Alan Turing was given the choice between a prison sentence and chemical castration. He chose the second one. He sure didn't deserve either though.
    Last edited by chriskot; September 11th, 2009 at 03:31 PM.

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    Better later than never I guess.

    On a side note: online petitions actually do work.
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    The guy is most famous for the Turing Test.
    "The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence"
    Until now, no machine has passed the test.

    About the enigma machine. The enigma was finally broken due the capture of the german submarine U-110
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-571_(film)

    : )
    Last edited by Ian Miles; September 11th, 2009 at 08:04 PM.
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    Turing is one of my heroes. Aside from the test thing, I first learned about his existence by reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Which lead me to read his biography.

    Actually, he didn't break the specific Enigma code, even if he was a cryptographer, but he did devise an algorythm and build a machine that could figure out the daily encryption key of the enigma machines and then decode the messages automatically (instead of having armies of mathematician working on each message.)

    And he wasn't incriminated of being gay, actually, being gay as not reprehensible in theory, meaning being an abstinent gay. He was found guilty of sodomy. After his lover stole stuff from his appartment, and he complained to the police. He had to tell them why the guy was there, and he might have been a little clueless about the consequences of that.

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    U-571 is a complete farce. It's incredibly historically inaccurate and completely makes out it was America responsible for the capture of the Enigma machine which was taken by the British months before America entered the war. In fact, the Poles took an prototype version of the machine before that.

    From Wikipedia:

    A written acknowledgment does appear on-screen that the Royal Navy captured the first, and subsequently the vast majority, of the Naval Enigma devices.[7] Released during the U.S. military's ongoing Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the acknowledgment avoids any mention of Turing, who was gay.

    and:

    In 2006, screenwriter David Ayer admitted that U-571 distorted history and stated that he would not do it again.[8] Ayer told BBC Radio 4's The Film Programme that he "did not feel good" about suggesting Americans captured the Naval Enigma cipher rather than the British.
    “It was a distortion...a mercenary decision...to create this parallel history in order to drive the movie for an American audience. Both my grandparents were officers in World War II, and I would be personally offended if somebody distorted their achievements."

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Miles View Post
    The guy is most famous for the Turing Test.
    "The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence"
    Until now, no machine has passed the test.

    About the enigma machine. The enigma was finally broken due the capture of the german submarine U-110
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-571_(film)

    : )

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    Those ignorant yanks! They'll be claiming Churchill was half-American next!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dashinvaine View Post
    Those ignorant yanks! They'll be claiming Churchill was half-American next!
    He's so well loved that I wouldn't be surprised if we actually did claim that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poshspice View Post
    About the enigma machine. The enigma was finally broken due the capture of the german submarine U-110
    Thanks 4 read dude.
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  28. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Miles View Post
    Thanks 4 read dude.
    I did see that Ian, I was referring to the movie! It's silly screenwriters who play with recent history that involve people who are still alive that annoy me. U-571 was brought up in the house of commons by Tony Blair at one point for its inaccuracies. Another example is James Cameron who portrayed Officer Murdoch in 'Titanic' as someone who shot two passengers, when there was no evidence for this at all! He had to apologise to Murdoch's family who still live in Scotland.

    Back to Turing: I now look forward to the day all the gay men and women other than Turing who received similar treatment as him at the hands of the state are apologised to for their treatment. But I won't hold my breath.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poshspice View Post
    I did see that Ian, I was referring to the movie! It's silly screenwriters who play with recent history that involve people who are still alive that annoy me. U-571 was brought up in the house of commons by Tony Blair at one point for its inaccuracies. Another example is James Cameron who portrayed Officer Murdoch in 'Titanic' as someone who shot two passengers, when there was no evidence for this at all! He had to apologise to Murdoch's family who still live in Scotland.

    Back to Turing: I now look forward to the day all the gay men and women other than Turing who received similar treatment as him at the hands of the state are apologised to for their treatment. But I won't hold my breath.
    Yeah, that movie (571), took so many artistic licenses. I saw it once, and it´s... well it´s not the worst piece of crap I ever saw.

    And for Cameron part. Well in the 4 disc-set of titanic, he addmited that he´d put the guy in villanic manners for the sake of the tale, that role is not historically correct, but, if you have to decide between trash the magic of the show, or not to do. I think he did the right thing (for the movie, of course).
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  30. #21
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    A much better film about the Titanic is 'A Night to Remember', starring Kenneth More. Cameron's offering was melodramatic, sloppy trash, very suitably paired with Celine Dion's torturous power ballad.

  31. #22
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    Sadder still is the fact that people are disappointed when Hollywood products aren't historically or scientifically accurate.

    Thanks for posting, Posh.
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