Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

vendredi 3 novembre 2006

What if Alexander Graham Bell never existed?

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Sliders, a sci-fi show about an unlikely quartet that is stuck wandering the multiverse, landing on parallel/alternate earths in a perhaps vain attempt to return to their home Earth (known as Earth Prime.) They travel the Einstein-Rosen-Podolosky wormhole between Earths over five seasons. During their five seasons together, they encounter a wide array of parallel Earths that we can only imagine. Take, for example, the world where the colonies lost the Revolutionary War, George Washington was beheaded in 1779, and we are all British subjects. Or the world where the Sino-Soviet Empire swept the globe in the 1950s, and the U.S., the lone holdout, was annexed into the Soviet Union in 1961, resulting in a world full of communism except for pockets of resistance here and there. Nueva España, the world where the Anglos lost the war and Candians flee the poverty of their country for the riches of La California is a fascinating one. One of my favorites is the one where JFK was assassinated by Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1963, so J. Edgar Hoover took over the presidency, declared martial law, and abridged the Constitution. For more worlds, visit the Travelogue.

As someone who loves history and science fiction, Sliders has always captured my imagination and I enjoy imagining possible alternate Earths, where there was some divergence at some point in history, trivial to major. Today I started wondering what if Alexander Graham Bell never existed. A partial description of the damage Bell hath wrought on our community can be found here.This man was a strong proponent of eugenics and wanted to eradicate deafness from the earth. (By the way, note how the Wikipedia section on eugenics closes with how he was a kindly grandfather in an attempt to water this powerful section down?? How infuriating!) Bell's work, as well as those of his contemporaries, led to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, according to Patrick Boudreault's research. He was one of the more instrumental forces during the infamous 1880 Milan Conference banning sign language in deaf education. Bell was one of the most successful colonizers of our people and his destructive influence continues to this day. This has led me to ponder what an Earth without Bell would be like.

What would a world without Bell be like? Would oralism have been marginalized, with manualism gaining primacy, or would it have retained its stronghold where it was strong before yet failing to gain much footing where manualism was the norm? Would Adolf Hitler still have risen to power in the 1930s, and if the answer is yes, would der Führer have written Mein Kampf with the same arguments he made in our world? Would Auschwitz, Dachau, and other concentration camps have claimed as many lives, or indeed any lives at all? Would cochlear implants and genetic engineering have become the perceived threat they are today? Let your imagination run wild!


  • At 15:04, Anonymous a gally grad said…

    Thanks for introducing me to Sliders. I never watched it when it was on the air, but your post inspired me to track it down online. The first 2 seasons are available on itunes (though not captioned, boo!).

    I"m pretty sure the DVDs are captioned, so request them (FREE) at your local library or rent them.

    There's also a neat web site that includes a script archve, if you want to read up. It's at http://www.earthprime.com/scripts/sliders-scripts.html


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