Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm So Sorry That People In The Past Weren't As Morally Worthy As Myself.

One of the reason apologising for historic wrongs is usually a bad idea is that there is often a very strong subtext of self congratulation masquerading as regret, comparing the moral failings of others and contrasting it with one's own enlightened and modern sensibilities.

I say subtext but in Gordon Brown's clunking fist it just becomes text, as today's apology to Alan Turing who died over half a century ago:
I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.
How can you be sorry and proud at the same time? There is nothing for Gordon Brown to be sorry for, he isn't responsible for something that happened when he was a toddler. Equally he has nothing to be proud of, the treatment of Alan Turing was disgraceful and tragic but that applies to a lot of events in history why feel proud simply because we live in an era with slightly different moral codes than that which existed at other times?

Historic apologies are just an excuse for sanctimonious moral preening.

{via Plato}

7 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

agreed

Tendryakov said...

You can see why this has been headlined – after all it’s one thing Gordon Brown can do without a cock-up – apologising to a dead man.

It Will Come to Me said...

It's a play for the 'pink' vote, that's all.

Anonymous said...

im not a big fan of these kind of things but the british government never dies, so to speak, and so it can apologise for its past actions. Brown personally cannot be sorry but he can be proud that he persuaded the british government to make the apology.

Ross said...

"It's a play for the 'pink' vote, that's all."

Possibly, but I don't think it will work- why would Turing deserve an apology and pardon but others who were convicted of the same offence aren't pardoned?

"Brown personally cannot be sorry but he can be proud that he persuaded the british government to make the apology."

I sort of see where you are coming from but given that in theory the government exercises the will of the Prime Minister it amounts to being proud that he persuaded himself.

Matthew said...

Well (and that was me) if you want to become PM to do certain things, and then do become PM and do them, you can surely be proud of that? You don't have to do them all on the first day...

Ross said...

I think it's stretching it somewhat, he could then declare himself to be proud of every decision he takes in givernment then.