The Consistency Game: Why Pardoning Alan Turing Alone Is Not Necessarily A Helpful Response.

Disclaimer: I realise I am slightly late to the party on this one, but having seen The Imitation Game recently, and thinking about the injustice in the film, I have decided to write down my thoughts on the matter, as well as posting a link to a certain petition that I will discuss later.

On 24th December 2013, Queen Elizabeth II took the long overdue step of pardoning Alan Turing for the gross indecency indictment that, as portrayed in this year’s aforementioned Oscar contender, eventually led to his suspected suicide at the age of just 41. In doing this, she finally overturned what many see as a long held injustice, that a man of such great intelligence and influence was driven to potentially kill himself over contemporary society’s condemnation of who he was.

However, this alone is not enough. It actually does little more than set a precedent for logical further action. If Turing is to be pardoned for his crimes, then the clear next step is to pardon the estimated 49,000 more who were convicted under the law. After all, creating a one rule for one and another for everyone else is edging into dangerous waters. Should a murderer do less time because he is an influential public figure, or someone who has aided their country? Of course not, they are still a murderer, and should be judged accordingly.

Of course, I am not suggesting for one second that Turing’s pardon is not the right thing to do, merely that if it is thought through for even a second, then the only logical conclusion is that anyone else tried for the same crime must also be pardoned. After all, the pardon never stated that Turing did not commit the crime, merely that he was to be forgiven for it.

There is a petition, on Change.org, that calls for precisely this; the pardon of all those convicted alongside Turing. I would ask anyone reading this from the UK to sign if this is at all a topic that interests them, and if you are not from the UK, to share it with anyone you know in the UK who might be interested. It only requires 3000 more signatures or so, and I will post the link at the bottom of the page.

Turing was indeed a remarkable human being. He was the father of modern computing and the test for the realism of artificial intelligence is still named after him today. This should not, however, mean that he is above everyone else in the eyes of the law, where everyone should be equal if it is to be taken seriously. Pardoning Turing was an excellent first step to make, but there are many more before justice is truly to be done.

Link to the petition to be found here:

https://www.change.org/p/british-government-pardon-all-of-the-estimated-49-000-men-who-like-alan-turing-were-convicted-of-consenting-same-sex-relations-under-the-british-gross-indecency-law-only-repealed-in-2003-and-also-all-the-other-men-convicted-under-other-uk-anti-gay-la

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