Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology .... on behalf of the government to Alan Turing, the second world war codebreaker who took his own life 55 years ago after being sentenced to chemical castration for being gay.While Turing is now famous and recognized, an article in the Times pointed out,
Describing Turing's treatment as "horrifying" and "utterly unfair", Brown said the country owed the brilliant mathematician a huge debt. He was proud, he said, to offer an official apology. "We're sorry, you deserved so much better," Brown writes in a statement posted on the No 10 website.....
He was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment". His criminal record meant he was unable to continue his work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) because his security privileges were withdrawn. Two years later he killed himself, aged 41.
That fame, however, is relatively recent. Turing never lived to appreciate it – at a time when other war heroes were enjoying a comfortable and glorious retirement, he chose to take a bite from an apple he had laced with cyanide. He died on June 7, 1954, ten years and one day after D-Day, which many military analysts believe would not have happened were it not for Turing’s work.I saw a play about Turing a number of years ago, starring Derek Jacobi, which was very moving. But it's not as though I think of him very often. However, it turns out I am thinking of him every day without realizing it.
There are two main reasons that history passed him by. The first is that his code-breaking techniques were central to the new intelligence war with the Soviet Union and so the documents that would reveal his wartime record remained classified. The second was that Turing did not quite fit the mould of the regular hero. His homosexuality sat uncomfortably with the social atmosphere of the Fifties and his country did not want to acknowledge its debt to such a man. At the time of his suicide his security clearance had been revoked and he had been forced to submit to oestrogen injections, which caused him to grow breasts.
I am a devotée of the Macintosh computing platform. I've not used a PC aside from casual necessity since I wrote my doctoral thesis on a pre-Windows machine, and I've been through generations of Macs. (They are the favored platform for most biologists, as much of what we do is graphics-heavy, and at most meetings, Mac users are at least equal if not greater in numbers to PC users). I even have an Apple sticker on my car.
Little did I know that this company logo directly honors Turing:
Always a potent symbol, the apple speaks of Newton’s discovery as well as biblical knowledge, prohibition and punishment. But Apple had a more specific mythology in mind. The key is the missing bite, a tribute to the death of Alan Turing.I always preferred the old rainbow Apple to the modern version, and when I was closeted, it was my hidden rainbow on my car. How ironic that it really was so much more directly related to a member of the "family" than I thought. We don't abuse GLBT people now the way we used to, but perhaps this is a reminder than any abuse of our brothers and sisters is too much. Even if the story may be apocryphal.
Hat Tip Lawdork.