Alan Turing gets royal pardon on homosexuality ‘crime’

Alan Turing.

(Credit: The Telegraph/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

What does it say about your life when you get a Google doodle before you get a royal pardon?

In the case of Alan Turing, many will believe that a small sliver of honor was expressed when on Monday, the British government announced that the brilliant codebreaker and pioneer of computing had been pardoned. Or, as it’s officially — and quaintly — described: “a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen.”

Some mercy.

He was convicted in 1952 of the crime of homosexuality. Actually, in those days it was called gross indecency. Despite his supposedly heinous transgression, he was given a choice: jail or experimental chemical castration.

He plumped for the latter, though he still lost his security clearance, which meant he couldn’t work on government projects. And this was the man who’d helped crack the Enigma Code.

Two years later, he ate an apple laced with cyanide. Some say it was suicide, other disagree.

A royal pardon in 2013 is merely posturing. Post-Turing.

In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown managed to utter the word “sorry” for the way that Turing had been treated by the very country he’d so intelligently served. A campaign launched by computer scientist John Graham-Cumming had … [Read more]

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