Opinion: Petitioning for Change: A Love Story

Mike Richards is a senior English major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Mike Richards

There is more said in silence, or in making no comment, on a serious matter. Though that leaves the slate clean for no concrete implications, therein lies the notions that maybe — just maybe — you don’t support or agree with the situation.

But who knows? Sometimes it’s just easier to pass it aside to someone or something else. Though, that doesn’t make it the admirable route.

So, let’s talk about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. William and Kate. British royalty.

In lieu of actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game,” Cumberbatch and many others, including British comedian Stephen Fry, have signed a petition to pardon those prosecuted for being gay. This number totals around 49,000, including Turing. Turing was pardoned in 2013, though his persecution led to his suicide in 1954.

Cumberbatch made a plea to the Duke and Duchess to join the campaign, an effort that was essentially refused, and said publicly through a spokesperson, “It’s a matter for government.”

And there it is. Just a “Nah, we don’t want to.”

And it will remain as just that, unless someone calls them out on it.

Here’s a snippet from the open-letter Cumberbatch and others signed:

“The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable. It is up to young leaders of today, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand. We call upon Her Majesty’s government to begin a discussion about the possibility of pardoning all the men, alive or deceased, who, like Alan Turing, were convicted.”

But they were denied.

Before it seems I’m refusing to comment, let’s get down in it.

The claim that this is a matter for government is a farce being that they have such a heightened role in society, though not the legal power to enlist change. There is a sense of passivity oozing from their inability to not only support this campaign, but to not even be able to give their own public comment.

By not making a comment, the public remains unaware if they are anti-gay or just don’t want to meddle.

Now the part where I’m disturbed: Why in the hell is it that difficult to pardon those who were and still are afflicted decades after homosexuality was decriminalized in 1967? Not only was their “crime” sharing love for someone of their own sex, but these people were essentially tortured. The criminality of the actions imposed upon these people are heinous, and to not give justice to them, their families and their records is downright despicable in nature.

You know how this could’ve been handled, Duke and Duchess? Just say, “We support the need for change, but this is a matter for government.” At least that gives strength to the campaign but shows that you aren’t against it.

Unless they are, to which I raise my hand and ask, “Why?”

It’s important to know that these issues lie overseas, just as much as they do on our own turf. All of these politicians need to understand that this is in fact a matter for government because these are the people that made it an issue for government. They imposed the laws, and now they don’t want to deal with it.

I encourage you to challenge them, without having someone speak for you.

Contact Mike Richards at [email protected].