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To Alan Turing, the living send their regrets.

ONE OF THE more ridiculous consequences of the PC obsession with victim groups is the recurrent demand for someone to be pardoned or given an official apology for wrongs committed to them a long time ago.

Alan Turing. Image: WikiCurrently there’s a campaign for Alan Turing, the codebreaker of Bletchley Park, to be pardoned for having been convicted in 1952 of “acts of gross indecency” with other men. Turing had the misfortune to be gay at a time when the practice of homosexuality was a criminal offence. He died a couple of years after the conviction, most likely by suicide.

You can see why this appeals to the righteous: a war hero driven to suicide by an evil, homophobic society. How much more enlightened we are these days. And in many ways, indeed, we are. But enlightenment is not retroactive and a pardon is pointless.

First of all, the man is dead. It’s irrelevant to him.

Secondly, like it or not, he broke the law of the time and was convicted. Different times, different customs. You can’t do anything about that. Judging an issue like this from the past through the lens of our current morality is wrong-headed. Who’s to say that in fifty years some of the most dearly held opinions of the politically correct won’t be viewed as puerile or ridiculous?

Thirdly, nothing practical will be achieved by issuing a “pardon”.

Fourthly, the only people to benefit will be those demanding a pardon, because they can feel themselves morally ennobled at no real expense.

And finally, in my opinion there’s something profoundly unhealthy and dishonest in most of this digging around in the past, trying to find something to feel guilty about. If you want to feel guilty about something which happened before you were born or which you had no hand in, go ahead, feel guilty. Just don’t include me in it.

– Michael Blackburn.

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One Comment

  1. daniel smith wrote:

    well, it’s not so much just about Turing, but the complete proliferation of the pharmacological ways of dealing with mental and otherwise “illness” as it’s defined today. There’s a whole pharma industry and lots and lots of doctors treating people who are “depressed”, and who wouldn’t be, given the state of things? While govt’s lie right to the faces of the people (WMD) and corporate/political entities spy on us? (FOX) And then, at least over here in the states, there is the simultaneous creation of what is being called the “police state”, where we now have 10 times the number of people in prison vs. only about 40 years ago? But keep going to work! :)

    Sunday, 30 December 2012 at 15:47 | Permalink

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