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Sep 112009
 

Alan Turing was a computer scientist and a homosexual at the very dawn of electronic computing, and contributed enormously to the winning of World War II by being one of those behind the code breaking efforts at Bletchley Park. When you consider his contributions to the war effort and his contributions to the new field of computer science, his sexual orientation was the least important part of him. Yet because of his sexuality, he was prosecuted, lost his security clearance (which was particularly devastating because of the lack of other places he could make his contributions), and harassed by the British security services.

Eventually he committed suicide; almost certainly because of his harassment by society that couldn’t see past his sexuality and see his vast contributions and potential.

There are those who say he shouldn’t be forgiven because he was a homosexual and that is forbidden by god. That position is contemptible and not worth commenting on.

There are those who say he shouldn’t be forgiven because he broke the law of the time. Well the law was immoral and wrong. In many ways we are obligated to break laws that are immoral.

There are those who say he shouldn’t be forgiven because there were many other men persecuted because of their sexual orientation. Perhaps 100,000 men, or even more (oddly enough homosexual women were not persecuted to quite the same extent (although I’d welcome pointers to prove me wrong … well sort of)). There is a point to that objection, but forgiving a particularly shining example of such harassment is the first step on the path of getting all those persecuted men pardoned.

And Alan Turing is a good start to that process because even those who do not like homosexuality can be brought around to believing that Alan at least deserves to be forgiven because of his immense contributions.

But most of all he should be pardoned because he didn’t really do anything wrong, and honoured because of his contributions.

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