Poem on Alan Turing: I Beg Your Pardon?

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Writer Dean Atta expresses his thoughts on the recent pardon given to Alan Turing in a poem.

I beg your pardon?

Alan Turing’s pardon comes sixty years too late
Our country showed him no love then, just hate
By branding him a criminal, they sealed his fate
So I beg your pardon if I choose not to celebrate

No mercy for a World War Two peacemaker
Computer pioneer and top-secret code-beaker
All this was overshadowed by his sexuality
In 1952 he was convicted for homosexuality

And his punishment? A chemical castration
And he was one of many men throughout this nation
Facing prison or prohibition for this supposed crime
But now we live in more enlightened times

Can we pardon 50,000 other men convicted

For not hiding whom they chose to have sex with
Or being reported for what they did consensually?
Can we get some justice for them, eventually?

Because Turing was a genius and Turing was a hero
But if I’m neither one, it does not make me a zero

Because we’re not all geniuses
But we deserve love and freedom
And we’re not all heroes
But we deserve the chance to be one

Because Tom Daley coming out made the news
And yet so many people said, “That’s not news”
But so many wouldn’t do the same in his shoes
Now that YouTube video has 10 million views

And that 10 million came from one man
Making one choice to use his voice
But many men and women had to fight
For his freedom to love is now his right

Alan Turing did not have that nor did 50,000 others
Who lost a war with the law for being lovers
We must pardon those 50,000 mothers’ sons
Because it’s not really justice if it’s just for one.

You can listen to a recital of this poem by clicking here.


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