The machine you are reading this article on today owes its existence to a cadre of computer scientists from the late 1930s and early 1940s who wound up at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) in Bletchley Park, Britain during World War II. Of those, the man who turned the conceptual into reality was Alan Turing. His work on computational mathematics formed the foundation of the modern information age. This made his arrest in 1952 for homosexuality, under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, that much more of a shock. He was sentenced to chemical castration, labelled a sexual deviant and classified as mentally ill. Unable to find work, and ostracized from society, he took his own life in 1954.
And now, things are changing. Fifty-nine years after the world lost his genius, the British Parliament is introducing a measure to issue a posthumous pardon. This move came after internet giant Google created awareness of both his accomplishments and punishment on what would have been his 100th birthday. When he was castrated, it did not matter that, without his efforts, the United Kingdom would have starved to death during World War II. The focus on his lifestyle, over his accomplishments, resulted in the loss of who knows what else would have sprung from his genius mind.
Even arch-conservative Baroness Trumpington spoke in favor of the pardon before the House of Lords, citing her work with him at Bletchley Park. Unless some obstruction appears, unlikely with the United Kingdom riding high on marriage equality, Alan Turing will gain in death what he could not in life: acceptance in society.
But, as pointed out in The Guardian, merely pardoning Turing is not enough, not for Britain, or for the world. We must remember, not only his greatness in life, but the injustice which took him from us. To merely pardon him, without addressing the shameful issues which led to his death, would leave the door open for further injustices in the future.
Of course, since the Westboro Baptist Church demands we surrender all ties to homosexuality, we do invite them to shut down all of their websites, throw out all of their computers and smartphones, and to join the pre-industrial age.