ferengi80
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Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:48 am

A campaign has been launched to call for a posthumous apology for Alan Turing.

Turing, regarded as the father of modern computing, is most famous for his code breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII. However, in 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency after admitted a sexual relationship with another man, an was chemically castrated as a "treatment".

Stephen Fry has put his name to the campaign, as have many other people.

Sky News coverage is here http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Tec...lan-Turing/Article/200909115374408

Certainly right that he should be given an apology. His treatment was totally barbaric.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:21 pm



Quoting Ferengi80 (Thread starter):
His treatment was totally barbaric.

Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

It is used in several US states in cases of rape and child molesting, but not for homosexual "activities".

The US states are California, Iowa, Florida, and Louisiana. A total of 6 states look at this as a form of punishment for sex crimes, they are, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Montana. The states of Georgia, Montana, and Texas have not passed this form of punishment.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:43 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

Yes, we can. Homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination are equally abhorrent regardless of when they occurred. Knowing the context may allow us to understand why people of the past felt that way, but it does not excuse their behavior.

And yes, I think Turing is owed the apology.
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lowrider
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:44 pm

What do you hope to accomplish with an apology? It would have to be some amazing apology to change anything from Turing's point of view.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:47 pm



Quoting Lowrider (Reply 3):
What do you hope to accomplish with an apology? It would have to be some amazing apology to change anything from Turing's point of view.

By that logic, posthumous military awards should also be discontinued, since the recipients are not around to appreciate them.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:58 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 4):
By that logic, posthumous military awards should also be discontinued, since the recipients are not around to appreciate them.

OK. Unless you happen to think that those awards benefit the surviving family (which Turing has none of), benefit other soldiers still currently fighting (which Turing was not engaged in at the time of his prosecution or death), or in some other way benefits the public at large.

Try finding an apple instead of an orange.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:14 pm



Quoting Lowrider (Reply 5):
OK. Unless you happen to think that those awards benefit the surviving family (which Turing has none of), benefit other soldiers still currently fighting (which Turing was not engaged in at the time of his prosecution or death), or in some other way benefits the public at large.

If an award to a dead soldier benefits current soldiers and the public at large, it could be argued that an apology to a dead guy who had a relationship with another guy benefits current guys who have relationships with other guys.

The fact that Turing didn't doesn't have any surviving family is rather irrelevant. By that logic, I could say we shouldn't give awards to dead soldiers who don't have any surviving family.

At the end of the day, I don't really care whether they apologize to him or not. I think that a blanket apology covering everyone who was treated in this way would be more appropriate. If they apologize to one person alone, then other people can start demanding apologies as well.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:26 pm



Quoting Vikkyvik (Reply 6):
If an award to a dead soldier benefits current soldiers and the public at large, it could be argued that an apology to a dead guy who had a relationship with another guy benefits current guys who have relationships with other guys.

Benefiting current soldiers aids in the national defense, something that is a valid area of government concern. Why should the government be concerned about benefiting relationships between various guys?

Compare it to the apology to Americans with Japanese ancestry who were interred during World War 2. There you have the ability to apoligize to, seek forgivness from, and directly compensate those who were wronged. How does any of that apply in Turing's case?
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:35 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

We can certainly ask why the morality of homosexuals were scrutinized more so than the morality of heterosexuals.

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 5):
Unless you happen to think that those awards benefit the surviving family (which Turing has none of),

Is this your way of saying you support gay adoption, Lowrider?

In fact you are wrong on the facts. Two seconds of googling turned up:

Quote:
It turns out that Alan Turing's brother, John, had four children - three daughters, Inagh, Shuna and Janet with his first wife Joan, and a son, Dermot, with his second wife Beryl.

Ref: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight...turing_relatives_recall_uncle.html

Quoting Vikkyvik (Reply 6):
At the end of the day, I don't really care whether they apologize to him or not. I think that a blanket apology covering everyone who was treated in this way would be more appropriate. If they apologize to one person alone, then other people can start demanding apologies as well.

I think the friends and families of those treated this way should be allowed to apply for an apology, and then a blanket apology for these people and any others should be issued.

Alan Turing was a key contributor to the Allies' success in WWII and a key contributor in computability theory. His ideas are as important to computer theory as are Einstien's to physics. His treatment was abominable, IMHO.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:58 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

Im sure some people say that about the concentration camps in Nazi Germany , No excuse IMHO it was wrong then and its wrong now.

Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 2):
Yes, we can. Homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination are equally abhorrent regardless of when they occurred.

You got the right attitude. I totally agree.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:28 pm

What's done is done. I do not think posthumous apologies are worth anything. They poisoned him, drove the man to mental instability, and killed the man. You cannot apologize for killing someone in an egregious manner. He's dead, he has no family...
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kc135topboom
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:33 pm



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 2):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

Yes, we can. Homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination are equally abhorrent regardless of when they occurred. Knowing the context may allow us to understand why people of the past felt that way, but it does not excuse their behavior.



Quoting Revelation (Reply 8):
We can certainly ask why the morality of homosexuals were scrutinized more so than the morality of heterosexuals.



Quoting OA260 (Reply 9):
Im sure some people say that about the concentration camps in Nazi Germany , No excuse IMHO it was wrong then and its wrong now.

No one is saying that about the Nazis, as they were a relitively small group of the world population then.

But, people in 1952 were more religious than people of today are, and that is where they believed homosexuality was wrong. It was against the law in most of the world, then, as it is now.

Yellowstone, every generation has, and will develope new ways of thinking and addressing humanity. In 50 years from now, those people will have a different way of looking at the things we do and believe today. So, should you be judged on your opinions and feelings of 2009 in a 2060 world?

There are many things different today than 10, 20, 50, 100, or 300 years ago. What was accepted behaivor today was not accepted then. People were different and people do change.

An example of this feeling you have is about the "punishment" of chemical castration then, for what was considered a crime than vs. you not commenting at all on chemical castration punishment as administered today in 4 states in the US. The punishment is the same. The crime back in 1952, in the UK (and US) was a sex crime, as rape is today. It is just the "victum" that has changed.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Tur

Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:08 pm

Aside from his war work, Turing was lost to the world when he still may well have had so much more to contribute.

While it is true that we cannot easily today judge these times glibly by our (or most of our) standards, you have to see Turing's case within the context of that particular time too.
While homosexual acts were illegal and would be, only for 21 years and over though, until 1967, how he was treated was not typical either.
Since of course, in the real world most of the time people looked the other way and/or just did not speak of it.

However, in the early 50's there was one of these awful 'moral panics' that elements of our media whip up and pressure weak politicians with.
And the Home Secretary, one David Maxwell-Fyfe was as weak, pandering and venal as any.
He pressured for much more police attention be given in rooting out homosexuals.

This was not the only time Maxwell-Fyfe would do this, his actions had also lead to very dubious sentences of Capital Punishment being carried out.

I do not see this case as a sexual equality thing, rather as an acknowledgment of Turing's vital war work.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:49 pm



Quoting Revelation (Reply 8):
Is this your way of saying you support gay adoption, Lowrider?

Wow. So incredibly off topic and irrelevant. Is this your way of padding the length of a post?

Quoting Revelation (Reply 8):
In fact you are wrong on the facts. Two seconds of googling turned up:

Surviving family is generally considered to be direct descendants and household members. Strictly speaking what you found are relatives. And that is the term the article you cited uses.

Many people have been wronged in ages past. Demanding pointless empty gestures that can do nothing to correct the wrong does nothing except to take attention away from current suffering and current injustices. If Turing was alive, I would be all for it. Then it would have some meaning. This public flagellation is little more than masturbation. It may feel good for a moment but accomplishes nothing.
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Yellowstone
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:46 am



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 11):
Yellowstone, every generation has, and will develope new ways of thinking and addressing humanity. In 50 years from now, those people will have a different way of looking at the things we do and believe today. So, should you be judged on your opinions and feelings of 2009 in a 2060 world?

Yes, I should.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 11):
An example of this feeling you have is about the "punishment" of chemical castration then, for what was considered a crime than vs. you not commenting at all on chemical castration punishment as administered today in 4 states in the US. The punishment is the same. The crime back in 1952, in the UK (and US) was a sex crime, as rape is today. It is just the "victum" that has changed.

That doesn't follow. Homosexuality is not wrong; ergo, any law that institutes any sort of penalty for it is also wrong, especially one so severe as chemical castration. It's entirely possible for a punishment to be appropriate in one case but not another.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 11):
No one is saying that about the Nazis, as they were a relitively small group of the world population then.

Not so small - most of Germany collaborated with them. But if you don't like that example, was slavery morally correct in 19th century America? It was broadly accepted at the time.
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1stfl94
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:28 am

I have already signed the petition. The work he did was vital in both bringing about allied victory in WW2 and in developing computer science, something that we all rely on these days. He was persecuted because of a few small minded politicians (at the time there were the beginnings of discussions regarding the legalisation of homosexuality but which were shot down several times) and should be remembered alongside the other heroes of WW2
 
BigBadBoo
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sun Sep 06, 2009 3:56 am



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.



Quoting Yellowstone (Reply 2):
Yes, we can. Homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination are equally abhorrent regardless of when they occurred.

Sure, you can still call them abhorrent by today's standards, but KC's point is valid - at that time homosexuality was taught in university level classes to doctors and psychologists as a disorder and this same dogma filetered down to the general public. Given that the vast majority of people are NOT homosexual, even good hearted, honest and moral people at the time felt homosexuality was a problem at best and criminal at worst - that was the scientific understanding at the time and it doesn't make people abhorrent because they were following correct scientific dogma (at the time.)

Quoting OA260 (Reply 9):
Im sure some people say that about the concentration camps in Nazi Germany , No excuse IMHO it was wrong then and its wrong now.

That's a good example to elucidate this issue better! But, again, many honest and good-hearted Germans believed at the time many things about the Jews we now know was a lie. The Hitler Youth were started in the mid 1920s and by the time of the death camps (not running until early 1940s) you've got an entire generation that has only learned scientific and expert instruction that Jews were xxxx xxxx.

By tomorrow's standards they could have decided that killing cows was abhorrent, or that killing Iraqis was abhorrent, or that polution was abhorrent, or that circumcision is abhorrent....whatever....it doesn't mean that the vast majority of us today who may do these things aren't good, honest and moral people, it just means that we are living by the standards of the day.

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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:55 am



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.



Quoting GDB (Reply 12):
While homosexual acts were illegal and would be, only for 21 years and over though, until 1967, how he was treated was not typical either.
Since of course, in the real world most of the time people looked the other way and/or just did not speak of it.

GDB is correct KC and I am afraid you are wrong in terms of the society that Turing moved in. Remember the background from whence he came. His treatment was barbaric and it was totally at variance to common practice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing

If you knew a little more about that you would realise that Turing was pilloried for a kind of life that was normal to a part of that group and was tolerated by those of his colleagues for whom a different kind of life was normal.

You should not impose the mores of a different society upon the one that Turing came from. The risks of having that dichotomy became very obvious as the infamies of the spies emerged during the fifties and a major part of the move to liberalize the law came from a realisation of the power for bad that came from the illegal nature of homosexuality.

I am happy to say that Google seems to be totally unaware of the three Cambridge College limericks that I know of. So perhaps the past is really starting to get into the past.

The treatment of Turing was appalling, it was cruel and it was unusual. AFAIK, it occurred mainly when he came in contact with the petit bourgeoisie of the security services due to his service for the military. Kept in his college it would never have occurred. Sir John Shepherd had an honorable retirement. Nobody sniggered at Lord Annan AFAIK and yet he was Provost of that same society for 10 years (1956-1966). Annan was married with two children but I cannot recall any pogroms being mounted when he took over.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2000/feb/23/guardianobituaries
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:12 am

I must say, that if I were in Great Britain, I would feel compelled to sign the petition also. The man should certainly be recognized for his contributions to Great Britain and the war effort during WW2. No matter what took place after the war, he was there for the war effort and deserves public credit. One has to think of the lives he helped to save because of his work.
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ferengi80
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:53 am

Good news folks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has today issued a formal apology for the persecution suffered by Alan Turing. This is excellent news, and paves the way for a total pardon.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8249792.stm
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baroque
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:53 pm



Quoting Ferengi80 (Reply 19):
Good news folks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has today issued a formal apology for the persecution suffered by Alan Turing.

Good news indeed. Signs of sanity. Well done Gordon.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:47 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 20):
Quoting Ferengi80 (Reply 19):
Good news folks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has today issued a formal apology for the persecution suffered by Alan Turing.

Good news indeed. Signs of sanity. Well done Gordon.

More like a sign of insanity, our great leader rarely has the time to make comments on the economy, release of terrorists etc, but has time for this. Well done Gordon indeed  Angry
 
GDB
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:05 pm

To be fair, this was not something that would have taken up any amount of government time, no direct costs, just a read of the petition, maybe a quick bit of civil service legal advice, get a staffer to draft the statement, done.
 
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:44 pm



Quoting Ferengi80 (Thread starter):
A campaign has been launched to call for a posthumous apology for Alan Turing.

I tend to fall into the "Why?" camp. Yes, what was done to him was horrible, cruel, and unusual as other posters have pointed out. However, the U.K. has very permissive laws towards homosexuality today, far better than the U.S. does.

If it makes some people feel better, then great. For me, I just don't get the significance now that it's 50 years later.
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WarRI1
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:03 am



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 23):
I tend to fall into the "Why?" camp. Yes, what was done to him was horrible, cruel, and unusual as other posters have pointed out. However, the U.K. has very permissive laws towards homosexuality today, far better than the U.S. does.

If it makes some people feel better, then great. For me, I just don't get the significance now that it's 50 years later.

I would think that with the great debt all of us owe to this man, all the lives that were saved by his knowledge and work. It is the least that can be done by a somewhat ungrateful nation. The younger generation as usual may not have a clue who he is or was, and the freedom they enjoy today is directly tied to his work. We probably would have won, but do we know? Hopefully, they will learn from the publicity. Do they care? That is another question.
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:23 am

One thing this has done, is draw attention to the need for funds to keep the Bletchy Park museum preserved.
A good case for Lottery money, when you consider that this facility is believed to have shortened the war by two years.
Even being critical in the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

It does not loom as large in the consciousness about WW2, mainly because it was not until 1974 that the place, even then long out of use, was declassified.
This is why the otherwise seminal documentary series, The World At War does not mention it in any detail, since that series was made in 1972/73.
 
baroque
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:05 am



Quoting GDB (Reply 22):
To be fair, this was not something that would have taken up any amount of government time, no direct costs, just a read of the petition, maybe a quick bit of civil service legal advice, get a staffer to draft the statement, done.

 checkmark  And engage brain to recognize a past injustice deriving from a set of inappropriate and iniquitous laws.

Quoting GDB (Reply 25):
One thing this has done, is draw attention to the need for funds to keep the Bletchley Park museum preserved.
A good case for Lottery money, when you consider that this facility is believed to have shortened the war by two years.

 checkmark  Not sure about two years. I guess the Russians would have won anyway, but for the west it might well have been more than two years. Look what happened to some of the convoys when Enigma "went down".

Quoting WarRI1 (Reply 24):
I would think that with the great debt all of us owe to this man, all the lives that were saved by his knowledge and work. It is the least that can be done by a somewhat ungrateful nation. The younger generation as usual may not have a clue who he is or was, and the freedom they enjoy today is directly tied to his work. We probably would have won, but do we know? Hopefully, they will learn from the publicity. Do they care? That is another question.

Indeed. And alas "maybe not" in answer to your last question. But some DO and for them it is well worth it.
 
ozglobal
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:40 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):


Quoting Ferengi80 (Thread starter):
His treatment was totally barbaric.

Please remember, 1952 was a totally different time than today. We cannot judge those of that time period using our standards of today.

It is used in several US states in cases of rape and child molesting, but not for homosexual "activities".

The US states are California, Iowa, Florida, and Louisiana. A total of 6 states look at this as a form of punishment for sex crimes, they are, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Montana. The states of Georgia, Montana, and Texas have not passed this form of punishment.

It's now 2009, but many states of the US impose capital punishment, virtually the last OECD nation on earth to do so, and the only country to rival China in the absolute number of state executions.

Many sectors of the south of the US, the bible belt, Utah et al, would be broadly supportive of Turing's treatment even today.

We'll judge these elements by the standards of today with no qualms at all.
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.
 
ozglobal
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:48 pm



Quoting Pellegrine (Reply 10):
What's done is done. I do not think posthumous apologies are worth anything. They poisoned him, drove the man to mental instability, and killed the man. You cannot apologize for killing someone in an egregious manner. He's dead, he has no family...

In Australia, the first act of the newly elected government was to apologize by act of parliament to the Aboriginal people for the mistreatment and misguided help offered since european settlement. Whilst this does not 'erase' what happened, it changed the existential identity of the nation, ruled a line and allowed a new chapter of history to begin.

People who won't apologize when they know they have done wrong, but rather invest great mental energy into arguing against it have a mean idea of both the past and the future....
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.
 
baroque
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RE: Campaign For A Posthumous Apology For Alan Turing

Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:10 am



Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 28):
People who won't apologize when they know they have done wrong, but rather invest great mental energy into arguing against it have a mean idea of both the past and the future....

Excellent point.

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