On Geeks and Gays: The Campaign for an Apology to Alan Turing

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    Apr 29, 2010 3:57 PM GMT
    http://newstilt.com/notthatkindofdoctor/news/on-geeks-and-gays

    From John Graham-Cumming's editorial:
    Lots of people assumed I was gay when I campaigned for an apology for the treatment of Alan Turing. I’m not, so what was it that drove me to stand up for a gay man?

    [...]

    And so I asked myself why I had stuck my neck out in public for a man who died before I was born. The answer is two-fold: because Alan Turing’s treatment was wrong and because as a geek I empathized with the idea that being different from some societal norm brings enormous pain.

    Now, of course, I can hardly compare the treatment meted out as I was growing up to Alan Turing’s dishonorable prosecution and persecution. But there was too much in Alan Turing’s story to ignore it forever. And every year around his birthday I had been saddened by this unclosed chapter of British history.

    When I was a teenager at school I definitely did not fit in. I had glasses, was awkward, brainy, wore the school uniform because I had no idea what else to wear, and suffered insults from my classmates. One of these was the frequent and common slander “poof” (which is probably the closest thing to the American term “fag”).

    I was either ignored, or verbally abused, or physically assaulted. In one attack two boys pinned me down and asked me the incongruous question: “Do you prefer music or art?”. “Art” after all was something only a poof would like.

    I have never forgotten the cruelty of the teenagers around me, it has been a silent fire within.
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    Apr 29, 2010 4:10 PM GMT
    What this and many other examples have taught me is that my only aim will be to help other gay men & women, but never straights. Whatever I create, whatever I invent, whatever I devise, whatever work I do, will be for gays only. And I will make every effort to deny straights access to what I accomplish.

    Indeed, I am doing this already. Straights receive none of my charitable contributions, none of my volunteer work, none of my efforts in any area.

    We used to have a phrase in the US Army: "We take care of our own." I now apply that to the gay community. Let the straights go fuck themselves, they'll get no benefit from me.
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    Apr 30, 2010 6:41 AM GMT
    Red_Vespa saidWhat this and many other examples have taught me is that my only aim will be to help other gay men & women, but never straights. Whatever I create, whatever I invent, whatever I devise, whatever work I do, will be for gays only. And I will make every effort to deny straights access to what I accomplish.

    Indeed, I am doing this already. Straights receive none of my charitable contributions, none of my volunteer work, none of my efforts in any area.

    We used to have a phrase in the US Army: "We take care of our own." I now apply that to the gay community. Let the straights go fuck themselves, they'll get no benefit from me.


    Hmmm I didn't post the entire post, but the guy who wrote it is actually a straight man who campaigned for an apology to a mathematical genius who died too young and was persecuted by the UK Government - Alan Turing for being gay. To me discrimination is discrimination.
  • phunkie

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    Apr 30, 2010 6:46 AM GMT
    Alan Turing is the reason we have modern computers. He laid down the basis for program running machines. Half of what we study in Theory of Automata is by this man.

    British Govt. issued an apology, I think last year, for the persecution and punishment of Alan Turing.
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    Apr 30, 2010 6:54 AM GMT
    phunkie saidAlan Turing is the reason we have modern computers. He laid down the basis for program running machines. Half of what we study in Theory of Automata is by this man.

    British Govt. issued an apology, I think last year, for the persecution and punishment of Alan Turing.


    It's an incredibly sad story considering the contributions he made to his country and the war - from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing :

    Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (pronounced /ˈtjʊərɪŋ/ TYOOR-ing; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was influential in the development of computer science and providing a formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, playing a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.[1]
    During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre. For a time he was head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. After the war he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE.

    Towards the end of his life Turing became interested in chemistry. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis,[2] and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.

    Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952—homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at that time—and he accepted treatment with female hormones, chemical castration, as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, several weeks before his 42nd birthday, from an apparently self-administered cyanide poisoning, although his mother (and some others) considered his death to be accidental. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.[3]


    I think the story behind the campaign and the campaigner is also pretty interesting and a reminder that the issues of alienation and lack of acceptance aren't unique to those like us who are gay (though perhaps a bit more acutely so in some cases). Though what those of us who are gay experience is nothing compared to those who came before us as Turing's sad experience shows.
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    Apr 30, 2010 6:57 AM GMT
    I'm actually taking a Computer Science course where they've mentioned Mr. Turing quite a lot....it's amazing what he accomplished and such a sad story of how he died and what they did to him.

    And it's heartening to hear people speak up for him even after he died. The internet campaign to clear his name had a lot of influence in the UK govt apology for their actions towards their own citizen and one of their best and brightest scientists.