Turing finally receives an apology

Discussion in 'Politics' started by midlifebear, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. midlifebear

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    There have been at least one movie and a BBC production regarding the tragedy of Alan Turing, who was probably the pivotal code breaker of German Intelligence during WWII. Does anyone find this particular article gallingly far too little far too late as I do?


    British PM apologizes for treatment of gay code-breaker - CNN.com

    By the way, has the Catholic Church finally forgiven Galileo?
     
  2. B_Mister Buildington

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    "Forgiven" isn't the right word, but the church has changed its stance on the issue of heliocentricism, and centuries ago took his books off of their banned list. A number of popes have praised him publicly, and in 1992 the pope publicly expressed regret at how the church handled the matter.

    Why do you bring it up? Just trying to deprecate other peoples' religions? The Catholic Church doesn't have a monopoly on unjust practice in the world of religion, you know.
     
  3. houtx48

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    I just read the account in some London newspaper piece and the comments to the article. Damn I thought Texas was homophobic, but those people were down and ugggly.
     
  4. Bbucko

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    I saw something mentioned in one of the gay blogs I follow about this about a week ago, in anticipation of this public apology. Too little too late, indeed. The man was barred from continuing his life's work, chemically castrated and shamed into suicide: tragic.
     
  5. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Turing was convicted in 1952 under the "gross indecency" Labouchere Amendment of 1885, which is the same amendment that was used to convict Oscar Wilde a decade later.

    This 1885 amendment was hastily tacked onto another bill in Paliament, that had nothing to do with homosexuality, much like conservatives like to tack gun rights amendments onto legislation that has nothing to do with guns. Anyway, the amendment was added at the last minute to this larger bill. Very few politicians read the add-ons, and it was passed the next morning.


    This Labouchere Amendment was broadly defined. Any contact between men that constituted "gross indecency" was punishable up to 2 years in prison (in Oscar's case, with hard labor). This is the same law used to convict Turing.


    Thanks to a british film called "Victim", starring Dirk Bogarde, public sympathy was aroused for the plight of gays (especially regarding blackmail), and by 1967 british laws against homosexuality were repealed and sex between consenting adults was legalized. By contrast, it was not until 2003 that sex between consenting adults was legalized here in the U.S., when the "Lawrence v. Texas" case reached the Supreme Court, 6-3 decision. Justices like Clarence Thomas and Scalia did not think that homosexuality should be, in effect, legalized because, as they reasoned, homosexuality was not an original "right" addressed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.
     
  6. Principessa

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    Really? Doesn't that fall under the pursuit of happiness? :cool:
     
  7. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Really. It's legal for every American except those serving in the US military however if you are serving, the age of consent for heterosexual intercourse is 16.
     
  8. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Also, about why this Labouchere Amendment was so harmful to homosexuals:

    Throughout the Middle Ages, there have been various laws against sodomy. But these laws have been specifically defined (i.e. two or more witnesses were needed to convict; the sodomitical act in question was narrowly defined to anal penetration).

    Even in the Middle Ages, when the punishment for anal penetration was death, this rarely occured. There are entire centuries where there were no deaths recorded due to transgressions of sodomy laws. In the 17th century, there were a couple death penalties meted out which may have been more politically motivated. The usual sentence seems to be a short prison term lasting a few months or standing in the public square with your hands and neck in a stockade, open to ridicule, where the passersby might sneer and throw vegetables at you. There were also monetary fines.

    What made the Labouchere Amendment in 1885 so harmful and destructive and backward was the amendment was written so generally and broadly (any act between men defined as "grossly indecent" contact) that suddenly, courts now had license to prosecute any sexual contact between men; and, now, overnight, oral sex was considered sodomy, mutual masterbation, all these other activities which would never have been considered sodomy from the early christians through to the mid-Victorian era (if two men were brought into court for mutually masterbating each other during the Middle Ages without anal penetration involved, this may have been considered biblically sinful, but not against any laws).


    Also, homosexuality had always been considered an adjective. To the pre-Victorian era mind, homosexuality was considered "sodomy" (usually "buggery") and was not very different from other non-procreative types of sex. In the late 19th century, the word "homosexual" was coined, a greek and latin hybrid word, and was now a noun. Now, there was such a thing as a "homosexual" person (instead of just an act). So, by naming the deed, this gave homosexuals special attention. They were a "class" of people now. When they were charged with sodomy after the 1890's, very often their names were printed in the public newspapers regardless of guilt or innocence, regardless of whether the case went to trial. There was now much shame involved being a special "class" of deviant, and that's why so many committed suicide during the early-to-mid 20th century.
     
  9. StrictlyAvg

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    What London newspaper? Wanna look now...
     
  10. JustAsking

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    Isn't that unusual? The Consitution grants all rights to citizens that it doesn't specifically make illegal. The Amendments are just there to highlight the important stuff.

    For example, scuba diving is not mentioned in the Constitution or the Amendments, but it is not illegal.

    It seems like that Thomas and Scalia argument is wrong, doesn't it?
     
  11. jason_els

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    The Constitution doesn't mention rape, murder, or jaywalking either. Whatever is not enumerated in the Constitution is given over to the states to regulate and I do know that SCUBA diving is illegal in some places (like near a nuclear reactor).

    The majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas was based upon the idea that the state must have a compelling reason to restrict consenting adults from intimate behaviors or else the law is in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because the law would only be based upon invidious discrimination. In other words, the state needs to have a reasonable interest other than a merely discriminatory reason to restrict adults from behaviors. This is why sodomy laws which restricted straight and gay couples from certain sexual acts were struck down along with laws which prohibited gays exclusively. The invidious discrimination which applied was merely that some people approved of certain sex acts and enacted laws to enforce their opinion while being unable to prove why other free citizens of age shouldn't be allowed to engage in sexual acts of which the majority (in theory) disapprove. In truth, the opinion had little to do with being gay and more to do with the question of what right does the state have to proscribe certain sexual behaviors among people of all sexual orientations.

    The reasoning of Thomas, Scalia, and Renhquist was based upon the doctrine of stare decisis, which is a legitimate form of common law that holds that the court must consider prior decisions made by previous courts regarding the same issues. They feared that a number of opinions which upheld discrimination based upon sexual morality laws would be called into question. Where Scalia, who wrote the dissenting opinion, really went off the rails is when he claimed that the court had, "signed on to the homosexual agenda." Rarely has the court been so openly biased and discriminatory. Scalia even worried that it might become legal to sell sex toys in Alabama! The horror! Clearly, the opinion of Scalia, Thomas, and Renhquist is (or was in Rehnquist's case) that some sex acts are moral and have a right to be enshrined as such in legislation. Where their argument failed to win over the rest of the court was that they relied solely upon stare decisis to uphold that opinion. They did not understand that former errors of the court are not a reason to continue making the same errors. The majority had the 14th Amendment. The minority had precedent and no Constitutional basis. Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, touched on this, but the really brilliant opinion was the concurrence written by Justice O'Connor. It was one of the best-written opinions I've ever read because she states the case so plainly and frames it so squarely within the Fourteenth Amendment, that the logic of it is clearer than the air on Everest. It is written opinions like hers that will make Lawrence v. Texas permanent.
     
  12. JustAsking

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    Yes, I meant that things that are not mentioned in the Constitution are not automatically illegal. Rape and murder are not illegal because they are not mentioned in the Constitution, but because they are made illegal through state laws, as you said.

    I do remember a lot of discussion about stare decisis during Judge Robert's confirmation hearings. It seemed like one of the major topics being talked about all through the hearings. Is it because Robert's has a history of relying on it too heavily?
     
  13. B_Enough_for_Me

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    Turing was a victim of his time in history. We can't expect long dead people long to act according to today's standards; that is absurd. The apology came recently because standards changed. There will be apologies made in the future to people who are being oppressed today.

    JustAsking: During the Roberts confirmation he was quizzed so heavily about precedent because the left thinks that he would vote against Roe v. Wade, or Roberts would steer the court in a direction that would limit Roe's scope; like they did in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. They were also afraid that Roberts would make a move on other landmark decisions like Texas v. Lawrence, Texas v. Johnson, or Thornton v. Term Limits. As those cases stand decided the Senate wanted to make sure that Roberts wasn't going to use his Chief seat to work against their interest.

    Having spoken with Roberts about his interpretation of the Constitution I have to say he makes an extremely hard to refute argument. He said that he found it hard to believe that when the drafters of the Constitution created a basis for the government, hard and fast rules by which the government was to be judged and held accountable, that there was an asterisk at the end; an exception that said the government could change the rules anytime they wanted to.
     
  14. B_Enough_for_Me

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    That is not what Thomas' dissent said:

    "I write separately to note that the law before the Court today "is ... uncommonly silly." Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 527 (1965) (Stewart, J., dissenting). If I were a member of the Texas Legislature, I would vote to repeal it. Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources.
    Notwithstanding this, I recognize that as a Member of this Court I am not empowered to help petitioners and others similarly situated. My duty, rather, is to "decide cases 'agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States.'" Id., at 530. And, just like Justice Stewart, I "can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy," ibid., or as the Court terms it today, the "liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions," ante, at 562."

    Thomas is arguing that the majority is implying a right to privacy (which doesn't exist) and thereby creating a right to do whatever you want in your bedroom. Of course the majority didn't go on to say that you can hire prostitutes or have sex with children, they appear to be in agreement with those laws even though their logic (and opinion) should strike them down. As you can see, by selecting one law to be struck down under the auspices of "privacy" but leaving several other laws that regulate the exact subject matter at hand lends credence to why Scalia thinks the majority fell victim to the homosexual agenda. Thomas never said that the Constitution needs to allow homosexuality for it to be legal, he said the states can regulate it because there is no such thing as privacy.
     
  15. Qua

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    Yes, they have. About 300 odd years after the fact, but yes, they did formally apologize.
     
  16. Principessa

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    [QUOTE=Qua;2326212]Yes, they have. About 300 odd years after the fact, but yes, they did formally apologize.[/QUOTE] I'm sure Galileo's descendants were thrilled. :rolleyes:
     
  17. jason_els

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    Justice Roberts is being a bit obtuse. Indeed the Constitution does lay out various options for the government to change the rules anytime it wants to. It even lays out rules for the people or the states to do so without consent of the government. He is also flying in the face of the court's own precedence. As Justice Holmes famously said in Schenck v. US:
    The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
    The First Amendment grants Congress no such right. One might even argue that the First Amendment permits perjury, slander, and libel. Nor does the Constitution grant Congress or the FTA the right to restrict ownership of automatic weapons or involve itself in a whole host of things in which it engages. By Justice Roberts' argument, someone like Ron Paul would be right to say that the Federal government has no right to involve itself in anything other than the very narrow and specific duties granted it under the Constitution. I find it highly ironic that the Constitution itself did not specify the Supreme Court to have the final power of Constitutional interpretation. The court took upon itself that power in Marbury v. Madison! Does Roberts believe that because that power was not enumerated to the court that it should not have that power? Methinks Justice Roberts is blinding himself to the very precedents which give him the ability to opine something so ridiculous.

    As much as he might complain about what the founding fathers thought, let's remind ourselves that the founding fathers were alive and well for many years following the creation of the Constitution and had they, as a body, any serious disagreement with how the court was doing its job, they would have said so and Congress itself was not so far removed from those men not to have an idea of what it was they meant in what they wrote. Sometimes I think people like Justice Roberts believe the founding fathers wrote the Constitution and then bodily ascended as a whole to heaven when, being mere mortals, they did no such thing.
     
  18. B_Enough_for_Me

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    The opposite conclusion would be ridiculous as well; that the drafters of the Constitution simply meant that the rules they wrote down were intended only for the precise time in which they were written. That, upon the election of a new faction, that faction should be able to change all the laws, including the ones the framers believed came from God itself. The rules would be amended not through the means presented, but through the courts own activism; which is admittedly not in the Constitution. It is a perverse result to say that the Constitution is so open to interpretation that the document is, in effect, useless. Oddly enough this is the very reasoning from Marbury. If there is no ability of the court to hold the government to the Constitution then the Constitution is useless, as is the court system.

    Further, the drafters were alive to watch Marbury. In fact, Jefferson was in the White House. They could have amended the Constitution to say that the Supreme Court did not have the authority they claimed it did. The drafters also wrote extensively on the subject of drafting the Constitution. At no time did they say you had a right to privacy. They didn't say it was implied or should be implied.
     
  19. houtx48

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    Turing finally receives an apology=subject
     
  20. JustAsking

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    Good point, hout. And one that is very important. However, I was just thinking that there are very few places where you would find the quality of discussion across the diversity of opinions that you see in the last 10 posts.

    What is it about this site that promotes such amazing conversation.

    Anyway, Turing deserves far more recognition than he every got. In a way, he invented computer science and that we are talking to each other on high speed computers the size of a book is partly due to his genius.

    I also think it is important to remember nasty periods in our civilization, even if we can understand the zeitgeist that led to such things. It reminds us in general what awful things we are capable of.
     
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