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If the name Alan Turing rings a bell, it's probably because of the Turing Test. But creating the famous Artificial Intelligence mind experiment was only one of Turing's many accomplishments. In WW2, it was Turing who cracked the Nazi code, saving countless lives and bringing the brutal war to an earlier end. He went on to become the father of the computer age. Turing invented the program, what we call software today, and laid the cornerstones for a network that connected defense computers by phone lines that would one day be called the Internet. Today, as you type on your keyboard, populate spreadsheets, and surf the web, you will be working on a modern incarnation of Turing's devices. How was this visionary genius treated by the western civilization he so ably helped preserve and enrich?
His reward for that? He was prosecuted for being a homosexual, stripped of his security clearance, and subjected to chemical castration. He killed himself two years later.
Finally, half a century after his death, the British government is being heavily petitioned to issue a formal apology and posthumous 'pardon' for their appalling treatment of Alan Turing. Long overdue, and richly deserved at the very least.
We condemn the post WW2 British government for their inexcusable, barbaric actions. But as any political junkie knows, that bigotry and hatred still burns bright, it lingers right into present day, and is not confined to the United Kingdom. If certain political opportunists and exploiters of religion had their way, millions of Americans, including our own Bill in Portland Maine and the hundreds of other GLBT Kossacks who make Daily Kos the amazing and inclusive online community that it is, would live their entire lives in dread and fear, or staring at the bleak walls of a prison cell ... just for loving a fellow human being who happens to possess an 'unauthorized' chromosome. Crazy.
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 07:16 AM PDT.