If I asked you to quickly name the first deaf-blind political activist that popped into your head, there’s a pretty good chance you would say “Helen Keller.” One or two smart alecks out there might say “Laura Bridgman,” who was sort of the Helen Keller before Helen Keller, much in the same way that Ed was sort of the Air Bud before Air Bud, but that’s hardly the point.
The point is, Helen Keller is insanely famous, and she should be. Her life story is nothing short of a miracle. Hell, her life story has been dramatized on both stage and screen as The Miracle Worker.
Before she was two, Keller contracted an illness that left her both blind and deaf. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller amazingly learned how to communicate (FYI I’m going to refer to Sullivan as Sully for the duration of this article because everyone with the first or last name “Sullivan” should and does go by “Sully”). Throughout her extraordinary life she earned a college degree, gave inspirational speeches, wrote a dozen books, met a baker’s dozen presidents, and even had a secret affair. Again, it’s miraculous. How the hell she pulled off a secret affair I’ll never fully understand, which brings me to my next point…
That’s right. I call bullshit. Not on everything. But on a lot of things. Mostly about the books.
For starters, Keller supposedly wrote her first story, The Frost King, at the age of 11. Eleven! Have you ever met an 11 year-old? They’re surprisingly stupid. Today’s 11 year-olds have access to iPhones, iPads, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Wikipedia, AskJeeves, and PornHub, and even THEY are still wrestling with the perils of proper grammar! You expect me to believe that a child who didn’t truly begin learning to communicate until after the age of six could publish a story, back in 1891, when Benjamin Harrison was the sitting president?
“Wait, that’s not Old Tippecanoe! Who the fuck is Benjamin Harrison?” you ask. Exactly. That’s how long ago 1891 was.
And there is a lot of controversy around The Frost King, most notably that it is widely believed to be PLAGIARIZED. It was essentially a reproduction of the story The Frost Fairies, written by some fully-sighted woman named Margaret Canby who also had full hearing. The editor of the paper that originally printed Keller’s story believed that Keller’s handlers, namely Sully, had committed fraud.
Which brings me to my next point…
We have to assume that Keller wasn’t actually the one physically writing these books. Her handwriting must have been god awful, and don’t even get me started on the typos. No, the most likely scenario is that Keller communicated to Sully through finger spelling (sort of like texting for the deaf-blind community) and then Sully, in turn, transfered Keller’s thought to page.
But, that seems almost too time consuming to fathom. Imagine how much time and effort must have been spent to make sure nothing was ever lost in translation. Sully must have had a pretty large financial stake in Keller’s operation in order to devote her entire life to it. Doesn’t their relationship seem a little suspicious? Isn’t it possible that these books were actually written by Sully and then signed by Helen Keller?
Let’s be honest, if you were in Sully’s shoes, wouldn’t it be hard to resist writing whatever the hell you wanted as “Helen Keller,” knowing that just by signing her name at the bottom you would increase your readership by like a million percent? Hell, if my friend leaves his Facebook logged in on my computer, I can’t resist but write “I eat poop” as his status every single time. Watch those likes rack up!
Also, Keller didn’t just focus her writing on what it was like to live in a society as a deaf and blind person, which would have been totally justified. I mean, Peter Mayhew has spent his entire acting career ONLY playing Chewbacca, and people respect the hell out of that.
Keller wrote about feminism, socialism, antimilitarism, and probably a bunch of other -isms throughout her life. These are pretty complex topics for someone who has only ever experienced the world through touch and feel. I’m willing to bet my dope-ass John Cena signed poster that the majority of these political philosophies came from Sully.
Look, Helen Keller’s story is amazing. It really is. It’s pretty inspirational that someone who was deaf and blind before the age of two could even learn to communicate—especially when you consider that the entire Boston metropolitan area still has yet to figure out how to say “Harvard” correctly. But it is simply not believable that Keller could be a serious proponent of complex economic philosophies, like Georgism, when she can’t even see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. IT’S THE SWIRLS HELEN! THERE ARE CINNAMON SUGAR SWIRLS IN EVERY BITE!
Then again, I’m an idiot.