Thursday, September 10, 2009

Britain Apologizes to Alan Turing

Sorry for the sort of fluffy posting today- by which I mean I haven't added much of substance to stuff I've mostly lifted from elsewhere. I'm feeling physically and emotionally crappy. This would have been a good day to simply sleep through.

But I did find a bit of good news. Britain has decided that it is appropriate to apologize for its treatment of Alan Turing, a gay mathematician who was crucial in breaking the German code system during WW II. While the circumstances were horrific, perhaps unforgivable, the sincere statement pleases me. It gives me hope that we, even governments, can learn.
Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

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