Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrity law

Alan Turing has been officially pardoned.  Back in 1952 Turing was convicted of committing an indecent act, which more accurately was a conviction for being in a same sex relationship.  While it is a tremendous miscarriage of justice either way it is perhaps worth noting that the police chose to charge him after he reported the circumstances of a robbery.  They didn't even have the excuse that he was 'shoving it in the faces' of the rest of the populace.  Turing was a groundbreaking cryptographer and mathematician so there are many people who campaigned for a pardon for him for years; surely this must be a good thing.

This pardon is a good thing but it highlights the terrible fact that tens of thousands of other people, some of whom are still alive, were convincted of the same crime and will not be pardoned.  I am glad that the UK is finally acknowledging that Turing's conviction was unjust but it should not have been an announcement reserved only for the famous and talented.  Does the unknown person of whom history has made no note deserve a pardon less?  Shall we search the records trying to determine who is important enough to warrant justice and who is not?

There are good reasons to pardon a person.  "Was wrongly convicted" or "Was convicted of a an unjust law" are good reasons.  "Was good at mathematics" or "Helped us out a lot in a war" are not good reasons.  If we are going to pardon people who were convicted of being gay then we should start by pardoning all of them, not by picking celebrities off of the list for preferential treatment.  Access to justice being determined by fame is a terrible thing whether it be O.J. Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, or Alan Turing.  We all deserve justice and I truly hope this serves as leverage to convince the powers that be that codified, legalized bigotry is wrong no matter who suffers from it.

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