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View Diary: UK Govt apologizes for Turing homophobia (157 comments)

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  •  The apology lacks in two ways (7+ / 0-)

    First, I find the folksiness of using his first name quite grating. He is Turing, the father of computer science.

    Secondly (and this bothers me less than it does some of my logician friends), the statement highlights his efforts at Bletchley ("codebreaker") while making almost no mention of Turing machines and the essential role they play in modern computing.

    That said, I am impressed that this statement extends the apology to all those who have been persecuted for being gay over the years in Britain.

    The big guy in the commercials would not approve of my use of the High Life.

    by leberquesgue on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 12:29:38 PM PDT

    •  In Britain, the WWII part is most powerful. (20+ / 0-)

      leberquesque, to your first point:

      The statement opens with Turing's full name (see first extract). We are not typically "folksy" in British formal speech, so perhaps a cultural difference may account for your perception! I take the use of Turing's first name at the conclusion of this statement to be a very human touch; a statement of recognition of the particular injustice done to this specific person.

      For your logician friends: I'm IT geek enough myself to understand your point; but wearing my marketer's persuasive writing hat, I'd note that many many Britons have a far clearer understanding of the existential threat we were under -- alone, in the first years -- and the huge sacrifices so many people made. That notion of shared sacrifice remains quite strong in Britain (where's it's all but dead here, I think) -- and especially so among the older generations most likely to still lean homophobic.

      So, in terms of persuasively underlining the awfulness of the abuse meted out to Alan Turing -- and by extension, all GLBT people -- that is much the more powerful gut-wrencher.

      I couldn't agree with you more that the apology to all gay people persecuted over the years is indeed a landmark.

      "Turning this country around [will] take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system." -PK

      by adrianrf on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 12:44:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He switches once it becomes an apology (5+ / 0-)

      Though the audience is the whole world, the apology is addressed (though not explicitly) to Turing's family, friends, and colleagues.  (In other words, the only people capable of accepting an apology on his behalf are people who would have called him "Alan.")  It would be weird to refer to someone by their last name when talking to their family, friends, or colleagues.  As the head of the British government, Brown would be expected to note Turing's contributions to the British government and people more than to science in general.

      I think it's very classy.

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