Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Today in gross indecencies...

Hey, good news for Oscar Wilde: after one hundred twenty-one years, Britain's Ministry of Justice might finally be granting him pardon. Of course the bad news is that a two-year sentence of hard labor destroyed him physically, mentally and spiritually and he died broke and in self-imposed exile on the streets of Paris.
"About goddamn time assholes..."
-Wilde, in one of his trademark witticisms
I'm not sure a culture that made corpse
desecration into a party game is really
in a position to judge others.
Ok, so they're not specifically talking about Wilde, who was convicted of 'gross indecency' back in 1895. They're talking bout-huh? Gross indecency? That's what they used to call gay sex. Gay at the time just meant happy and uttering the word 'sex' in the 19th century was a capital offense. You see Victorians were sort of famous for being squirrelly about sex, especially when it comes to the love that dare not speak its name. You could also say sodomy, giving caudle or buggery and gay men were sometimes called sodomites, Mary-Anns and, I shit you not, Gentlemen of the backdoor. Gentlemen. Of the backdoor.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but this was a civilization who ruled a decent percentage of the Earth's surface area. They waged entire wars just to keep people addicted to opium and once gave India to a private corporation and said go nuts. But gay sex was, for reasons that boggle the mind, just too much for the British Empire to handle.
A map of the vast Empire the British once ruled through
perseverance, stiff-upper lip'edness and certainly no gay stuff.
So while Edward II is off the hook,
Richard III is not. Murdering rivals
for the throne is still totally a crime.
Aaannnyway, the Ministry of Justice (or MiniJuice, if you're sassy) announced today, well tomorrow, well, today for them, tomorrow for us, that they will begin the process of expunging the records of men convicted of hot backdoor Mary-Anning which today is no linger a crime. Informally known as 'Alan Turing's Law,' it's making good on a promise the Ministry made after Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013 for being gay. A pardon that came fifty years after his gross indecency conviction directly led to his suicide, but still a pardon.

Um, so is it weird that I see the phrase
'historic sexual offenses' and immediately
think of Benjamin Franklin? It is, right?
Oh, and a Benedict Cumberbatch movie. So like, everything's cool, right? Even Steven? Here's what the Minister of Justice said/will say today/tomorrow:

"It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today. Through pardons...we will meet our manifesto commitment to put right these wrongs."

-Sam Gyimah, Minister of Justice

So yes. Turing's Law is great and it's awesome that they're finally moving on this. While symbolic, the pardons are long-overdue and are a statement of the Britain's commitment to acknowledging these wrongs. That said, it's not really putting them right either. These convictions destroyed lives and the gross indecency is that it took this goddamn long to officially clear them. So unless Minister Gyimah's got a time machine or something (sorry, I guess he'd call it a TARDIS), symbolism can only go so far.
And so Sam Gyimah finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right
what once went wrong, and hoping that the next leap will be the leap home.

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