Wednesday 8 February 2012

Alan Turing doesn’t deserve a pardon

Alan Turing
A lot of concern, some outrage, over the refusal to grant Alan Turing a pardon, yet this seems about right to me; not for the stated concern that he was properly convicted no matter how objectionable the law of the time, it’s more for what a pardon represents. A pardon is, to quote one definition, the “excuse or forgiveness for a fault, offense, or discourtesy”. Turing did nothing that requires forgiveness. I’m aware of the pardon in 2006 for the 306 soldiers shot during the First World War for cowardice, but I’d suggest this is different; we can excuse supposed acts of cowardice through exceptional circumstances or doubt about any guilt, without excusing the act itself. To pardon Alan Turing would amount to forgiving him for being homosexual and, having been treated so brutally, it’s the last thing he deserves.


  1. I must say, I hadn't really thought about this issue. When the news came up, I remember feeling a little annoyance at what seemed like a petty refusal to right a past injustice, but reading this I agree with you.

    What Alan Turing deserves isn't a pardon- it's a full and unreserved apology for the unjust and immoral law under which he was convicted.

    1. I think Gordon Brown apologised when he was Prime Minister, but in Turing's centenary year it would be good if Cameron repeated the apology.