Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous pardon yesterday to Alan Turing, the legendary British code breaker who was criminally convicted for being gay. After being forced to undergo chemical castration, Turing committed suicide in 1954.
As Ally Fogg notes, Turing’s work on the Enigma codebreaking machine “made him more responsible than almost any other British individual for the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.”
Quite understandably, many tweeters believe the Queen’s pardon was long overdue:
Wow, about time. Codebreaker Alan Turing given posthumous royal pardon, overturning 1952 homosexuality conviction http://t.co/ybTyLHIvhD"
— Dominic Campling (@dominiccampling) December 24, 2013
— Home Front Legacies (@fwwhomefront) December 24, 2013
That pardon for Mr. Turing was way, way overdue. But it was the right thing to do, IMO.
— Ramah Nyang (@Ramah_Nyang) December 24, 2013
Alan Turing will always be a sort of idol of mine, and this is way overdue but I'm happy it's done http://t.co/Sk3PXjp5Rz
— Connie Stafford (@conniemarys) December 24, 2013
A number of commentators, however, believe the pardon is not enough. David Allen Green, for example, argues that everyone who was prosecuted for homosexuality should be cleared:
Turing’s conviction was just one of about 75,000 under a vindictive law. But here is no logical reason why his should be regarded as a unique case. The actual wrong done to Turing was also one done to many thousands of men, and so any righting of that wrong must apply to those men too.
If Alan Turing is to be pardoned then so should all men convicted under section 11 if the facts of their cases would not be a crime today. But a better posthumous gesture would be to simply extend the 2012 scheme to all those who are now dead. Removing the criminal records completely of all those prosecuted who would not be prosecuted today on the same facts would be a better legislative gesture than a single statutory pardon, if there is to be a legislative gesture at all.
Many Twitter users agree:
It was not ok for Alan Turing to be gay because he was a genius. It was just ok. Pardon everyone or no-one. This fudge is utterly offensive.
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) December 24, 2013
Strong article on Turing pardon: 75,000 prosecutions since 1885. Good gay men destroyed by unjust laws. Pardon em all http://t.co/BKJoNLJQOX
— Phil Bloomer (@pbloomer) December 24, 2013
— Eric Darier (@EDarier) December 24, 2013
A few have argued for putting Turing’s photo on the ten-pound note:
@stephenfry Thanks to your help, the Turing on the tenner petition now has more than 25,000 signatures 🙂 We love you! http://t.co/AQ9i5bsv
— Turing on the tenner (@TuringTenner) October 30, 2012
Turing on a tenner … pic.twitter.com/atiFnPyBcw
— Polari Magazine (@PolariMagazine) February 23, 2013
He deserves it. Besides, putting Turing on the tenner would forestall the possibility of putting this guy on it:
— ⓢⓗⓐⓡⓓⓒⓞⓡⓔ (@erocdrahs) July 14, 2012
Editor’s note: Twitchy has amended this post to correct two typos. Apologies for the errors.