Last night I saw The Imitation Game.
It was good, although, as I always do, there were a few little quibbles that I’ll debate with my friends and family. But that’s not the point right now. Seeing the movie made me remember when Turing was pardoned a few years ago.
Seeing the news article “Alan Turing to Receive Posthumous Pardon” made me angry. I did not think, like the voice of dissent in the article, that pardoning him would create a bunch of people who think they’re above the law. It made me angry because what the state did to Turing was nothing short of horrible, and an unjust law (the law that convicted him) is no law at all. Having the modern government forgive him is getting off a bit too easy, in my opinion.
In the movie Turing has a discussion with one of the police officers interrogating him and he asks him, essentially, “Am I human, or am I a machine?” The officer refuses to judge him either way. Again, the easy way out. Though it is no longer illegal for men to be gay or bisexual in Britain or the United States, the entire LBGTQIA population is still regarded as less than human. It it still quite legal to discriminate in many states, and though the freedom to marry is gradually being obtained across the US, there is still much work to be done.
I, myself, am a bisexual. Fully out as Kathy Sherwood, but only partially out in the rest of my life. I probably lack courage, but that is neither here nor there for the moment. For many years, I felt afraid of my attraction to other women, and afraid of how the people in my life would take the knowledge that I rated above a zero on the Kinsey scale. I think, I feel, and I love. I am human. Alan Turing was human. My more than incidentally heterosexual fiance is human. And yet….
Something brings to mind Shylock’s famous monologue from The Merchant of Venice. Obviously, the devilish but tragic old merchant was referring to the Jewish people, but his words can be applied to nearly every marginalized, persecuted group.
“…If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die..?”
Machines do none of those things. How simple it is! So simple that many people seem to forget it, even when others are pricked, tickled, and poisoned. It’s not something we can afford to forget, even with the smart machines that Turing envisioned. They have not eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections nor passions. But humans, even those with different tastes, beliefs, colors, and abilities do.