As a nation, the British were lucky in the second world war to have Alan Turing. His genius directly shortened the war by two, possibly three years, and in doing so saved millions. Further to this, we know the Nazis were working on their own atomic bomb development program. If they had had the time and the resources to spare, which they would have done had the war lasted another couple of years, they may well have completed it before the Americans. Alan Turning shortening of war then may well have saved many British and American cities from the fate of Hiroshima. Indeed, perhaps the whole world from a premature nuclear holocaust.
As a nation, the British were unlucky after the war in that homosexuality laws caused us to lose one of our finest minds. Had Turing lived, then silicon valley may have been built along the Thames. The powerhouse’s of the internet age could well have sat somewhere outside Richmond, while the rest of the world was running just to keep up.
But more importantly, Alan Turing was unlucky to be born in a nation which persecuted one of its finest minds, among so many others, for the ‘crime’ of loving another man.
When you read this, more than likely on your mobile phone, or maybe your laptop or tablet, I would like you to think for a moment. You are doing something you can only do that because of Alan Turing. Something you can only do, not because his genius led us to the point where you can hold in your had a device that can access the sum total of all human knowledge. (That device you use to look at funny pictures of cats). Which it is entirely possible is the case.
But something you can only do because had it not been for Alan Turing the city you were born in may have been nothing more than a pile of irradiated rubble. A pile of rubble over which a much misused ancient Hindu symbol of peace on a black and red background flying over it. Something you can only do because you were born at all, which you may not have been had we lived in a world under the black jackboot of fascism.
Tonight (when I wrote this on 22/10/2016) I was watching the news when a Tory government minister talked away a bill named in Alan Turing’s honour. A bill which would have pardoned homosexual men whose sexual orientation was criminalised in the 1950’s. A bill which was to be named Turing’s law, because it was this same act that led one of our finest minds, indeed, one of the finest minds the human race has ever produced, to commit suicide after been chemically castrated by order of the British government.
I, a straight white guy, not that it’s relevant, have never been much enamoured of the Tory party. Which will surprise no one who has ever talked to me about politics. I, therefore, have little love for any government of which the Tory party is a part. But under David Cameron, they legalised Gay marriage. This was in my view a great step forward in equality and humanity. I have always been able to marry someone I love, and see no reason what so ever why any gay man or woman should ever have been denied the right to do the same. With that in mind, I have been known to point out the gay marriage bill to those who roundly castigated the Tory government.
“Yes,” I would say, “they are not the government of these blessed isles I would wish for, but at least they are heading in the right direction on this subject if no other. There is hope…”
Tonight (22/10/2016) they have proved otherwise….