(Image by Michael Dales)
I’m rather late on the draw in regard to this note, but I just wanted to say that I was profoundly glad to hear that the Prime Minister of England released a letter of apology on September 10 recognizing Alan Turing for his monumental “contribution to humankind”, including work in computation, mathematics, and code-breaking.
Despite his contributions, Turing was convicted under English homophobic laws and sentenced to chemical castration. As PM Brown writes, “In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay.” Given the choice between going to prison and undergoing hormone treatments, he chose the latter. Less than three years later Turing was found dead, apparently the result of a cyanide overdose. His death was judged to be a suicide.
While the note obviously cannot change the past, I’m glad to see the British government deliver the note. And I’m extremely proud of those individuals who lobbied the government to acknowledge this terrible mistake. Again, as PM Brown wrote, “So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.” So very true.