Dispatches from the Creation Wars

An Apology to Alan Turing

Here’s a worthy cause in Great Britain:

Thousands of people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology to World War II code breaker Alan Turing.

Writer Ian McEwan has just backed the campaign, which already has the support of scientist Richard Dawkins.


And rightly so. Turing’s story is both remarkable and appalling. His work laid the foundation for the development of computers, a development as significant as the harnessing of fire or the invention of the telephone. But during WW2, he was also the man largely responsible for breaking the Nazi codes and allowing the good guys to win that war and prevent Hitler from taking over.

His reward for that? He was prosecuted for being a homosexual, stripped of his security clearance, and subjected to chemical castration. He killed himself two years later. One of the backers of this campaign said, “With Turing’s death, Britain and the world lost one of its finest intellectual minds. A government apology and posthumous pardon are long overdue.” I could not agree more.