Why "Seaman"?

I wrote this when I was told that Hangman is not an appropriate game to be teaching in school. Then I learned that making the admin look bad is a good way to get fired. Which is true, I've been there. So the decision was moved "above my pay grade." Whatever.
I do not wish to offend anybody, so if you are easily offended, stop reading now, this page is not for you.

I personally am not easily offended, but if somebody wanted to do it, hypocrisy -- telling me to stop doing something while practicing the same or similar activity -- would have the best shot at it. Or maybe it would only encourage me to expose the hypocrisy.

This is that exposition.

I was told that "58 countries" practice a particular form of capital punishment as justification for not playing a particular childhood game. I cannot find any basis for that claim except on a particular unsigned web page said to derive their information from a link where that number did not appear and an actual count of the countries using that form of capital punishment was some other number (imprecise due to the way the countries were listed). Google gave several hits listing "58 countries" engaged in any form of capital punishment, but the whole topic seems so politicized that agreed and accurate numbers probably are not possible.

If we are going to censor our teaching materials because of an alleged "cruel and inhuman" method of punishment for assaults on public safety, why not also remove from our teaching materials any endorsement or use of technology that is applied to the persecution of innocent citizens in other countries, whose immigrants might have children in our schools? The largest country in the world is also among the most oppressive, and is certainly the world leader in the use of computer technology in tracking and identifying citizens for persecution and capital punishment. Therefore, the same reasoning goes, should we not avoid depicting -- let alone teaching -- computer technology in classes that might include children whose ethnic heritage comes from that oppressive country? The fact is, we have more children in American schools of Chinese heritage than from all "58 countries" put together.

Worse: we are actively supporting that oppression by buying Chinese computers (look on the bottom or back of any computer -- including those we give to every child in an American school -- every one of them says "Made in China." It is very hard to find a computer not made in China.

At least I can buy groceries not made in China (I refuse to buy Mandarin oranges in cans, because they all come from China), and I can make a donation to a non-profit fighting persecution (in China and elsewhere) equal to whatever I spend on Chinese products when that is unavoidable, and (before Covid) I spent a lot of time in stores reading product labels to find products made elsewhere. I do that.

But censoring a child's game? Where the object of the game is to prevent the execution? While continuing to support and promote other forms of oppression and torture? Get real.

For the record, I have removed from (or never inserted into) this curriculum any and all references and depiction of any form of capital punishment, including the most eggregious of them all, the execution of persons for no crime worse than being too young to speak for themselves, which is practiced in all but six (or 26; accurate numbers seem hard to find in this topic) countries of the world. Some of our students may have lost a sister or brother that way. Let's not remind them that they can be a part of the solution, and not merely a helpless victim.

Nothing bad happens to the "Seaman" ("see man") in my substitute, he doesn't even melt into nothingness (as in one of the other proposed alternatives), nothing happens to him at all. It's a game. The student is writing a game, not playing it. Rock-Paper-Scissors is non-violent, the paper never gets cut, the scissors never broken. The calculator is just numbers, it's not even made in China. And these kids are smart enough to realize that pictures don't oppress people, people oppress people, and learning computer technology, even if on Chinese computers, will make them better able to fight oppression everywhere (including in China).

And (see "ALL Lives Matter") I am smart enough to realize that if I want to take the educator's money and play on their team, I need to play by their rules. I can do that, and nobody gets hurt.

Tom Pittman
2021 May 19