Mar 8, 2014
Truthdigger of the Week: Alan Turing
Posted on Dec 29, 2013
It is impossible to miss the similarities between the course of Turing’s life and the persecution of whistle-blowers in our age. For publishing accounts of government and corporate wrongdoing produced by the offenders themselves, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Sunday entered his 558th day of confinement in London’s Ecuadorean Embassy. For retrieving some of those records, hacker Jeremy Hammond on Sunday entered his 664th day in prison. Though he is being pursued by the U.S. government, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the man who in June gave us irrefutable proof of both the NSA and the GCHQ’s unconstitutional domestic spying, is exiled in Russia. And just a few months ago, Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks’ most famous and consequential source, was sentenced to 35 years.
All of these people have been hounded and terrorized by governments for their deep, personal commitments to the truth. Though it is early for the others, history has so far vindicated only one of them, and it did so at a time of intensifying public pressure to grant homosexuals—a scapegoated minority because of the convenient opportunity it has often offered unscrupulous demagogues to accumulate popular power—the human rights they deserve. Power admirably pardoned Alan Turing, but it did so when it would have been more dangerous not to. It has so far not chosen to honor the integrity of others who bore tremendous risks to serve their countries rather than the leaders who govern them.
Below are three films. The first and third are brief documentaries on Turing’s contributions to mathematics and science and his conviction and death. The second is the full-length 1996 BBC dramatization of Turing’s life, starring the much-beloved English actor Derek Jacobi, who, like Turing, is gay. In one of the play’s final scenes, Turing’s character is asked by Patricia Green, his friend, fellow analyst and frustrated admirer, why he didn’t marry her and enjoy the social protection that so many homosexuals have sought when faced with a life of relentless suspicion and discrimination.
“None of this ever would have happened. I should have played the game and stuck to the rules,” Turing tells Green. She asks, “Why didn’t you?” He responds, “I couldn’t.”
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