December 18, 2012

Real changes rather than pardons

Turing statueSui generis, or generic gay? Pardoning Alan Turing - On Practical Ethics I blog about the latest call to pardon Alan Turing for his conviction for homosexuality. As a 40-year old gay computer scientist I of course feel a certain sympathy with the call. But as I argue in the post, it actually doesn't make much legal or moral sense. Far better to aim for real changes in rules, rights and attitudes than symbolic gestures.

The whole issue reminds me of the Galileo affair. Church apologies does not seem to have changed popular views of its attitude towards scientists, and the actions of individual cardinals/popes suggests that there is no general feeling of contrition.

Legal systems need error correcting mechanisms, and that includes changing past decisions. But they need to be based on agreed principles rather than arbitrary decisions by executives. American presidential pardons are a very mixed dish (leaving out the turkeys).

Posted by Anders3 at December 18, 2012 01:14 AM