Oscar Wilde, A Venture In Public Shaming, And A Lesson In Transfiguration

Oscar Wilde, A Venture In Public Shaming, And A Lesson In Transfiguration

The publicly shamed are deprived of being viewed as human beings, but rather punching bags for holier-than-thou outsiders to feel virtuous about themselves.


"I learned many things in prison that were terrible to learn, but I learnt some good lessons that I needed."

Oscar Wilde wrote the above quote to his friend Carlos Blacker, who escaped England for France in 1890 after being falsely accused of being a card cheat. Wilde himself, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, was accused and imprisoned for "acts of gross indecency," essentially for having homosexual relationships with multiple men.

Blacker and Wilde were two men who are described by Helen Andrews of First Things as "history's martyrs to shame," as both British men were publicly smeared and accused of crimes and had their reputations ruined, and were subsequently exiled from their homes. The charges against Oscar Wilde were true while the charges against Blacker were false, but it did not make any difference in the two men's experiences in public shaming and condemnation.

Fittingly, in a lesser known historical fact, in 1898, Wilde and Blacker provided critical information in exposing the French military officer who communicated French military secrets to the German embassy. The officer was named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, but, in a scandal fraught with antisemitism, was pinned on a young Jewish officer named Alfred Dreyfus. I cannot help but see that Wilde and Blacker may have empathized with Dreyfus as they themselves were once publicly condemned, shamed, and crucified men who went through hell and back.

"Of all history's martyrs to shame, the one whose example consoled me most was Oscar Wilde. He is remembered today as a gay rights pioneer, but, in the letters he wrote after his release from prison, he never rails against the injustice of the law that put him away," wrote Helen Andrews of First Things.

Andrews herself had been publicly shamed in her conservative circles: her ex-boyfriend, Todd Seavey, went into a 4-minute rant about her personal failings. "He accused me of opposing Obamacare on the grounds that it would diminish human suffering, which allegedly I preferred to increase...of being a sadistic and scheming heartbreaker in my personal life...he made an impassioned case that I was a sociopath."

Andrews would later find it difficult to be employed - anywhere. A simple Google search of her name would yield a video on C-SPAN of Todd's tirade against her that depicted her as a sociopath. The next couple years of her life would be nothing short of hell, and Todd, for his credit, didn't hold up much better during this time. He, too, had trouble getting a job and had many aspects of his life ruined. When Helen Andrews re-connected with Todd and asked him if he would do things any differently, he said he has become a big proponent of handling things internally and privately.

"In the future, if I get married, if my wife stabs me, you won't hear me shouting in public about it."

According to Andrews, in her essay about public shaming and "shame storms," no one cares about the truth, which was why the experiences of Oscar Wilde and Carlos Blacker were so similar. "There is no content to a shame storm. It is mindless by its very nature. It is indifferent to truth, even in cases where the truth could possibly be determined."

To be shamed, for both of them, felt like a tsunami hitting a home. In the words of Todd, "at a certain point you have to say, 'I'm just gonna stand here and hold this piece of plywood and see what's left standing when it's over.'"

The publicly shamed are deprived of being viewed as human beings, but rather punching bags for holier-than-thou outsiders to feel virtuous about themselves. The publicly shamed are fundamentally misunderstood, in situations where they are condemned so strongly that no one wants to listen or give them a chance. The publicly shamed have been given up on so many times and have so many knives in their backs that trust issues, betrayal, and devastation are no longer occasional events, but seemingly everyday occurrences.

Let it be known that almost everyone has, at some point, publicly shamed someone else. I certainly know that I have. It feels good. It gives you a dopamine rush. It divides your world into a black-and-white spectacle, where there is only, in the words of Katie Roiphe, the "flawless and the fallen, the morally correct and the damned." Who doesn't want to see themselves as one of the flawless and morally correct? Roiphe continues to say that "inherent in this performance of moral purity is the idea of judging other people before learning (or bothering to learn) all the facts." It feels great to live in the simple world of good and evil, rather than in the convoluted and complicated world where every single person is profoundly good, yet profoundly flawed.

Roiphe herself details how she felt in an instance where she herself engaged in publicly shaming, with a friend, a mutual acquaintance of theirs that had been accused of sexual assault: "the outrage grew and expanded and exhilarated us...I felt as though I were joining a club, felt a warming sense of social justice, felt that this was a weighty, important thing we were engaging in."

It should come as no surprise, then, that those who are publicly shamed the hardest are so devastated they often turn to suicide: OJ Simpson threatened to kill himself in a young Kim Kardashian's bedroom at the beginning of his infamous trial. Writer and professor Steven Galloway was put on round-the-clock suicide watch for two and a half years after being publicly accused of sexual assault and wrongfully suspended by his university. Producer Jill Messick, who was outed as a "Harvey Weinstein enabler", committed suicide shortly afterwards.

The gist of the article is not as simple as "public shaming ruins lives." Intense public shaming puts lives off course and changes them drastically, but many people have weathered these "shame storms" and come out of them intact, if not better and more compassionate people. These are the narratives we have often neglected and looked past, and ones I now seek to find.

Oscar Wilde, a fellow martyr to shame, found spiritualism and faith amidst his own public shaming. He himself stopped worrying whether the law that produced the charge against him was right or wrong, as that worrying did nothing for him.

"The truth that Wilde came to understand, which he shared with his fellow exile, was that they should accept their chastening in a spirit of gratitude. Nothing had been taken from them that would not be restored a hundredfold if they allowed their experience to do its redemptive work."

In De Profundis , Oscar Wilde saw his sufferings as an occasion for self-realization, and caused him to look deeper in himself for the answers he looked for. Wilde realized that every part of his life in prison had to be transformed into "a spiritual experience," a form of transfiguring his own suffering into beauty. "For the secret to life is suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything," Wilde wrote in this work.

Essentially, that is what Jesus Christ does, isn't it? The Gospels are a story of Christ making himself into a work of art through the transfiguration of his life's sufferings in the ministry. Christianity was revolutionary in that it did not condemn sinners, especially ones who were publicly shamed. We are all sinners, but the sin itself is not what is holy, but the transfiguration of it is, according to Wilde. That transfiguration leads us to see the unworthiness of living on our own, and instead see the "sordid necessity of living for others." In light of his own suffering, Oscar Wilde started to empathize with others that also suffered, and look no further than his aid of Alfred Dreyfus as an example.

That public shaming can be used as fuel and fire for our own transfigurations to become more like Christ. In theological circles, this is called the sanctification. As he was dying, Oscar Wilde converted to Catholicism.

But I find the most redeeming part, if I were to one day be publicly shamed in a devastating manner, to be the ability to empathize with other people who have suffered the grueling reality of walking through life with a heavy scarlet letter on their chest. The company Jesus often kept included the dregs of society: tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. The publicly shamed, whether righteously or unjustly, fall into that category of modern-day society. But the tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners were the ones that followed and found Christ because they were the ones that needed a savior the most.

Now, I am not advocating that every person publicly shamed and condemned become a born-again Christian like Oscar Wilde, but the point stands: you are not the same person. You cannot live the same life. That person and that life have been demolished by an excruciatingly painful experience, but that experience is the silver lining to be transfigured into something different, something greater. That transfigured identity is different for every person.

The root words of compassion are the Latin words for "with" and "suffering," so to have compassion for another person is "to suffer with" that person. What greater way to suffer with someone than to have gone through a similarly painful experience?

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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