back to article Campaign for official Turing apology gathers steam

A grassroots UK campaign to a secure a posthumous apology for computing pioneer Alan Turing over his persecution for homosexuality has begun. Turing's conviction for gross indecency in 1952 brought an end to an outstanding career as a wartime cryptographer, mathematician and computing pioneer. Denied the opportunity to exercise …

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FFS

You idiots with "if you don't like a bit of a laff, piss off". I do like a bit of a laugh, but at funny things. If you're paranoid about the poofters and what happens when you bend over for the soap, just go watch a few re-runs of Benny Hill. I'd rather have a laugh at something that's actually humorous.

"A man should apologise for the actions of his grandfather oppressing his grandmother, but his sister (also a grand-descendant) has no case to answer. This argument is ridiculous but it's used 50 times a day by feminists."

Here we go. We talk about one oppressed group of people, and suddenly it's all about the evil feminazis. Give it a bloody rest. No, men should be *doing something about* the *continued* screwed-up gender inequalities still going on today, not just wahing on about poor didums granddad being called out as an oppressive old bugger who kept grandma under his thumb all her life. In that "example", it wasn't grandma acting as a right turd who expected instant obedience at all times, or who denied granddad the right to his own money, his own property and his own job.

I actually don't want any men today to apologise for what granddad did, I want them to acknowledge it was f#cked up then, and, moving on, that they want to interact with women as equals in this day and age.

As for apologies, I think they're meaningful inasmuch they are a signal that things are going to improve. So, with apologies to Australian Aboriginals and the like, it should be about "We are sorry for the crap our previous governments visited upon your people, and the fact that today we still benefit from the genocide and forcible confiscation of your land today [because, hello, who owned all that land that those lovely ore mines are sitting on now]. Here are some things we want to do to make restitution..."

To apologise to Turing would be odd - he's dead, duh - and to gay men who were persecuted at the time. So they were, and while prejudice exists still in the UK, it's more at the individual rather than the institutional level. So an apology wouldn't not really be a signal of restitution - the hard work's been done already with the law changes since the late 60s.

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Coat

@Jamie Kitson

I read somewhere that the Laundry did it...

-- The one with that Knuth book in one pocket and the basal ganglia of a Basilisk in the other, please.

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Jokes

I have to agree that jokes can be excessive. You have to judge what each individual is able to take on a case by case basis. You don't make potentially offensive jokes to someone you barely know, but as you get to know someone you also learn how far you can take it.

It works the other way around for comedians, you have to judge from their style and reputation whether you will give them any attention. There are still lines that shouldn't really be crossed however. You don't want to tell black people to "f*ck off back where you came from", so equally you don't really want to be too bad about gay people. The question is are you having a laugh at their expense, or are you just downright insulting them?

As to stereotypes, do you really think all gay men walk like Mr Humphreys? It's hard to change stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is they don't exist nearly as much as people think. Anyone that thinks all gay men do in fact walk like that need psychiatric attention, or at least extreme reeducation.

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@A Lewis, Rav SSSS et alis - jokes in the IT dept

I remember in the 1980s a number of cases taken by Black firefighters for bullying and harassement in the workplace. Their white colleagues said 'they can't take ajoke', but the Black firefighters felt that to have to suck up 'Sambo' and the like wasn't being asked to be a good sport, but to accept slurs and insults. The point of the jokes was to make them feel shit.

I am all for witty banter, but fail to understand how making slurs against others -- their fat, their girl-friendlessness, their bad sight, their age, their colour -- is either funny or acceptable. I work in a very firm 'diversity' environment and we are having a good laugh all the time without any personal jibes being made. 'Just having a laugh' and 'give and take' are always words that come up when there is actual personal attacks going on, however subtly.

I find most IT humour a constant and wearying stream of men jockeying for social hierarchy positions and the endless reinforcing of that status, especially the ones lower down. I want to stand up sometimes and yell 'chaps, you aren't chimpanzees any more, get over it', but IT, where skill and brains counts for more than brawn and strength, is often the palce where the scramble for preeminence is often worse, at least in my experience, than where old-fashioned 'manliness' rules. More to prove? A less glamorous arena? I don't know.

As for creating a diverse workplace, I don't hold with quotas, as I think merit should win out. But so much hiring is done on the basis, mostly unconscious, of hiring the 'face that fits'. And so often that means 'a face like mine' and that so often is a white heterosexual male. To have a rigorous review of how people are hired to check whether these unspoken factors are carrying too much weight is always useful. I don't know why women, people of colour, the disabled, the older, etc. should have to grow thick hides. If the white straight males never change, then nothing ever changes. They shouldn't have to gird their loins before walking into work every day.

But of course to ask white straight males to change is to have them screaming on the ramparts about how oppressed they are. And who could blame them? When you own the world, why would you give any of it up?

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Nonsense

This one goes in the same bin as the hullaballoo over the last veteran of the trenches to die. It's old, tired history and it does us no good to rake over the ashes of events that we can't go back and change any more. Gordon Brown wasn't PM when this happened (was he even at school?) so why should he have to apologise for this? Also, homosexuality is now a well accepted lifestyle choice, so I don't see what there is to be gained by this.

To use the analogy above, it's rather like the relatives of Earl Haig or some of the other Great War commanders apologising to the gandchildren of the soldiers slaughtered because of their mistakes. It may make a few people feel better, but ultimately it's pointless.

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@AC

I'll see your basilisk camera and raise you a severed hand with attached mirror.

(If you don't get the reference, read some Charles Stross. If you do get the reference, re-read some Charles Stross. :)

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@Trixr

Dearest moderator, I apologize for being a white heterosexual male who finds Bernard Manning's jokes very funny but if I reword my censored comment will you let it through.

>granddad being called out as an oppressive old bugger

To paraphrase Blackadder, better that than an oppressive old buggerer.

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Anonymous Coward

But, But

I want to be persecuted. It makes me feel special

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@Hollerith 1

And I want all the "gimli" jokes stopped because I am short somewhat stout have long hair and beard and generally a bit grumpy.

There is a differance between jokes and slurs, you seem to missing this little fact or assuming that every joke is purposely aimed to put someone down...

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Interesting Days ahead .....

You may like to consider that the emphasis put on his homosexuality is/was a colossal red herring to hide the discoveries he may have made and conveyed regarding what can be done with/in Artificial Intelligence ..... and which some may have preferred to remain secret/exclusive.

"He didn't commit suicide, he was assassinated. One of my lecturers told me that, then very quickly retracted his statement, a moment that's always stayed with me." ..... By Jamie Kitson Posted Tuesday 18th August 2009 15:05 GMT ...... An earlier Dr. David Kelly? Both world leading experts in their fields and working field operations which would nowadays be called "black".

"Wheres amanfrommars? He's perfect for this topic due to the inability to pass the turing test!" .... By David Webb Posted Tuesday 18th August 2009 15:37 GMT.

David, that does not make sense. And are there any Turing papers which have been sealed and would explain his persecution, for AI and Networks InterNetworking Java Applications are discovering/have discoverd more that just a few Astute Keys for Absolute Control? And QuITe Perfect would they be for the yet to be established AIry Fairy Invention of the OCS and CSOC ..."To address the UK’s cyber security challenges, the Government will ..... Set up an Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to provide strategic leadership for and coherence across Government;

Create a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) to:

−− actively monitor the health of cyber space and co-ordinate incident response;

−− enable better understanding of attacks against UK networks and users;

−− provide better advice and information about the risks to business and the public." .... which is just a few of the items on the governments wishlist as pimped in the publication "Cyber Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, safety, security and resilience in cyber space." ..Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister, by Command of Her Majesty, June 2009.

Can anyone provide a lead name in the field [in the Cabinet Office] and an mail address, which might actually bother itself to reply, even with just an acknowledgement of receipt of emails, although I do realise that is most unusual for the present incumbents and their systems which would seem to be geared for plausible deniability of contact for maximum phishability? A tired old ploy which only works for a short time.

Although one would expect those who provide Intelligence and Intelligence Threat Estimates/Guesses to Governments to be more involved/tuned in and better equipped to make use of new sensitive and virtual tools. I wonder what they would make of this thread and post in their Joint Analysis Centres and Joint Intelligence Committees. Whenever the answer to that is nothing, then does the Private/Pirate Sector deliver and take over IntelAIgent Server Provision at an undisclosed cost to the Single Intelligence Account. Although whenever you Control Intelligence is any Expense, an Enabling Asset and Treasury Golden Goose.

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Erm

I dont think Turing gives two tugs of dead dogs cock given that he is 6' under. This here apologising for stuff that others long gone did to others equally long gone seems to be more about making people of today feel better about themselves by absolving themselves of guilt that was never theirs to absolve anyway.

I think apologising for stuff such as this, slavery etc only serves to help erase such guilty stains from our collective memories and thereby removes one of the more effective drivers for learning from the our ancestoral mistakes

Instead on apologising all the time how about we just concentrate on not doing it again and if realistic stopping others from making the same errors of judgment.

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Retired computer designer

Alan M. Turing was one of the heroes of my early training. The first machine design I produced for my industrial computer systems was called the AMT. An auxiliary multiplexing unit was called the CB after Charles Babbage.

Another of my fascinations was Kurt Gödel. When I understood that his group paper was mappable to the Turing stopping problem, I was confirmed in the understanding that this was fundamental work. Something which helped to delineate the limits of our human intellect.

Consequently I am in complete support of this petition campaign to restore the reputation of this giant of human understanding, not only as a machine designer but preeminently as an elucidator of the human intellect and consequently of our phenomenal universe as we experience it. The law under which he was suppressed and denigrated is now anathema, and his name should be both cleared and elevated.

Gavin G. Stairs

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Re Trixr

"No, men should be *doing something about* the *continued* screwed-up gender inequalities still going on today,"

Why is it up to men? Can't the women sort it out for themselves?

While you're at it, make a start sorting out the severe inequalities in female representation in the sewers, road gangs, other assorted unpleasant jobs, and the relative pay of male and female models.

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How about

a posthumous knighthood?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Black Helicopters

Bemused

And then there was the possibility of him being vulnerable to blackmail. There was good reason to withdraw his security clearance, and the "outing" was necessary to negate any possible blackmail in future, I suppose (after all, they could so easily have kept it quiet). After his "treatment" he might have been let back in, but it seems there was too much paranoia at the time. To give him a pardon would be grossly unfair to everyone else, and would miss the point of his "outing" -- do we really want to dumb down to that level?

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