British PM’s Apology Regarding Alan Turing Posted on September 11th, 2009 by

The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has released a statement apologizing for the “appalling” treatment of Alan Turing.  Turing made many important contributions as a mathematician, including laying some of the major foundations of the field of computer science.  Brown’s statement shortchanges these accomplishments by focusing only on Turing’s role in breaking German cyphers during World War II.

And yet, in a way it is appropriate that Turing’s accomplishments be downplayed, because the statement is an apology not just to Turing, but also to “the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws” and to the “millions more [who] lived in fear of conviction.”  Turing’s accomplishments make him a visible symbol of this group, but the wrong he was done was no greater for this accomplished individual than it was for all others similarly wronged.


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