[Klug-general] Alan Turing Pardon Petition

J D Freeman klug at quixotic.org.uk
Tue Sep 1 14:44:23 UTC 2009

Hash: SHA1

On Tue, Sep 01, 2009 at 12:08:26PM +0100, AllenJB wrote:
> Why does apologizing to a single person when hundreds probably met
> similar fates promote tolerance? Why should Turing get all the focus in
> this particular matter?

It is not just him, but his family too. The same with the pardens issued
for those servicemen executed in WWI for suffering from shell shock.

Yes he's dead, doesn't mean to say that we as a nation can't honour him

> What exactly do you want the government to do? Start an advertising
> campaign to let people know what a cool dude Turing was? Write a
> biography and publish it for free?

Or maybe make bletchly park the national monument it should be, and stop
the regular threats to turn it into executive homes.

> (Completely ignoring the current governments complete failings in the
> areas of technology and education)

Well they have to start somewhere, considering that Turing is considered
by many to be the father of the modern computer...

> How does the role of a past government, that probably virtually nobody
> knew about before this campaign started anyway, help the citizens of the
> country embrace one of many "heroes"? Why is Turing getting all the
> focus? While I don't know the details I highly doubt any single person
> was responsible for cracking enigma - from what I understand there were
> vast teams of people involved in the activities of Bletchley Park.

Actually, it is commonly regarded that he was critical to the cracking of
not just enigma, but many war time codes.

You are also overlooking his work behind the foundations of computer
science. His work on AI (Turing Test anyone?), his ground breaking paper
"On Computable Numbers" (1937), his development of mechanical code
breaking devices (bombes), his work on colossus the first programmable
digital computer (along with Tommy Flowers). 

These are just a few of his achievements. 

Yes there were thousands involved at bletchly, yes there were many members
of SOE who risked their lives to recover code books and enigma machines to
help Alan, without him, the world today would be very different.

When as a nation we honour people who do little more than run round a
field kicking a symbolic pigs bladder about, when we give knighthoods and
OBE's to people for singing a song. To over look someone who had such a
lasting impact on our life, is in my opinion tragic. 

> Promoting the role of the women who worked there would, in my opinion,
> do the technology industry far more good in the long run than promoting
> the work of a single person.

By honouring the work of Turing, we can also bring forth the work done by
the many women of Bletchly.

> Or how about just the work of Bletchley Park as a whole? At least when I
> was at school we were taught great swathes about the Germans and Nazis,
> but virtually nothing about what happened in Britain in that era.

Yes, that is because when the war ended, they destroyed the notes, and
faded into society. Unsung heros in a war like no other. 

The fact you didn't learn about bletchly during school is a travesty in
it's own right.

> Frankly, I don't see why my taxes should be put towards creating a
> static statue that stands on a single point in the country for a single
> dead person. I'd much rather they were put towards the benefit of
> current and future generations.

So you don't agree with the statue of the unknown soldier?

> This is of course ignoring the stupid amount of debt our government is
> currently in anyway.

It would have been in even more if the war had gone on longer, or had been

More info on the work of Alan Turing and the cracking of the enigma can be
found in "The Code BooK" by Simon Singh ( http://is.gd/2LkcF ).
Understanding of the implications of SOE and cryptography can be found in
"Bettween Silk and Cyanide" ( http://is.gd/2LkiB ).

Also, note, when holywood made a film about the cracking of the enigma,
Alan Turing, a man for whom his homosexuality was persecuted, who took hsi
life due to the society he had worked to protect turning its back on him.
Was cast straight...

Version: GnuPG v1.2.4 (GNU/Linux)


More information about the Kent mailing list