assorted stuff from my Instapaper.

“This is the challenging and frustrating thing about our age — we’re not changing our core emotional make-ups, we’re losing discretion and discernment as to when we should express emotions.” – Click. Click. Boom. Parenting In The Age of Facebook

Actually, we’ve never had discretion and discernment as a culture about expressing emotions. We’ve just got a worldwide broadcasting platform at our fingertips, and no sense of what that really means until our tempter tantrums go viral.

“…what I hoped would be a spiritual exercise ended up an unproductive mobius-loop meditation on the fungibility of memory.” – Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Interview With My Bully

This, I find, is true of almost any traumatic incident in one’s past. Shared reality is shifty business. It doesn’t negate the damage done, or excuse someone’s actions, but you’re not usually going to get catharsis or reparation from confronting a past aggressor, because most of the time, they don’t remember what they did in the same way you do. It might be something you need to do for your own peace of mind, but there’s very little vindication to be had. (I don’t intend to derail that particular dialogue from the subject of race-bullying, but it does apply in general.)

Speaking of bullying, on a massive scale, a few days ago it was announced that the House of Lords had denied Alan Turing a posthumous pardon. 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth, so there was a petition to pardon Turing. I might have actually signed that, I forget, but it sounds vaguely familiar. Still, I have conflicting feelings about the refusal to pardon.

Calling it a pardon seems odd to me. Pardon is forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty (thanks, Wikipedia!) and Turing committed no actual crime. Was it a criminal offense in the laws of the day? Yes. Do we know now as a more enlightened and evolved society that that’s ridiculous and horrible? Well, we’re getting there. But generally, yes. Pardoning someone for being gay seems like marching up to somebody who hasn’t actually done anything wrong but whose life choices offend you personally and saying I forgive you in a smarmy, self-satisfied voice. I could go around forgiving people for liking Taylor Swift, but…

Turing’s dead, and a posthumous pardon is just a pat on the back to us for being better a better society now than we were then. There are still plenty of places in the world where it’s dangerous and/or to be gay, and there’s still plenty of judgment, nastiness, and discrimination even where it’s not a crime. Start a GSA group or a scholarship fund for gay kids or something in Turing’s name, but a posthumous pardon, while not an entirely empty gesture, smacks of self-congratulation. Screw that. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

John Graham-Cumming, who was behind the apology petition for Turing, makes a good point:

…there are men alive today living in Britain with a criminal record because of offenses committed during the time the laws were in force. I could get behind a petition for a pardon for all those people, especially since living people are still hurt by that law, but not just for Turing. Pardoning him doesn’t help the living.

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