That title is going to be complicated to explain.
It’s been a while I’ve thought about the ways Lupin could have harassed Snape “passively” – scenarios based on my own experience.
I’ve been thinking about… what I went through during my middle/high school years. It was not fun. It was less fun when I started to see my bullies through Lupin.
For instance, I can’t really get over the fact he used the same excuse as my own bullies: jealousy.
Snape was “jealous” of James; I was “jealous” of my bullies.
You see, when you tell people how your target is jealous of you, it demonizes them in a shameful way. It tells how they are a pathetic person attacking you wrongfully, oh poor innocent human that did nothing wrong. Jealousy, after all, is a fault that remains completely on the jealous one. It gives your listeners the image that your prey is a mistrustful person while putting you in the position of someone who can be envied – supposedly for your goodness. Because that prey is framed as mistrustful and ill-intentioned, it allows people to doubt whatever accusation your target might have: either "they’re lying”, or “exaggerating”, or “making things up”. Only those who are versed in the mechanisms of bullying – the easy or the hard way – will spot the problem. Otherwise, people will find a pretext, a rightful excuse, or an innocent, well-intentioned goal, to keep your prey alone, weak, and “punished”.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Lupin. I’m not sure between disliking him, liking him, or remaining neutral. But I do know that he had the potential to bully people just like it was done to me.
Rumors, gossiping, bad-mouthing – in TV they are clearly shown perpetrated by other bad guys doing petty things. What they do not tell is that those repeating the gossips are not always baddies. On the contrary, they can be good-hearted people that could have defended you had they asked/believed your opinion or seen through the illusion.
But you know what’s funny in this story?
I know that social exclusion is a type of bullying, yet even I wouldn’t be able to tell you if what I went through was actual bullying. I don’t know where to trace the line between the actions of ill-intentioned people and the consequences of my own behavior. I tell you because it brings forth a very important point: bullying through social exclusion works most effectively against people who encounter struggles themselves. It is known that the loner, the unpopular, the problematic is a potential prey. But the nurses, the psychologists/psychiatrists, the professors, the family perhaps, will tell them that the problem comes from themselves, not from you, the bully. Who could blame them? We cannot know how things would have gone different if you hadn’t existed.
It gets eve worse: as you continue to bully them, including through indirect ways, you make them miserable to the point they do have the capacity to feel jealous. You’re not punished for what you’ve done. You are liked by everyone though you don’t deserve it. People think the bad guy is your prey, in reality both of you know how you are the true sick bastard. Believe me, silently enduring the unfairness of a situation is incredibly desperating.
I don’t even have words in the eventuality that the passive bully can serve as a sympathetic intermediate between your best friend and another worse bully so your own best friend will start to mistrust you, influenced by the affection the diplomate arouses from your ally. I mean, if the diplomate is so likable, and the supposed bully is their friend, wouldn’t that make sense to come to believe that you, perturbed by the bullying (or is it bullying?), is in reality the one creating problems? Everything adds up to the persuasion & manipulation tactic. That’s sadly what I tend to see through Lupin, James, Lily and Snape.
Socially excluding someone is not only preventing them from contacts – it’s also “robbing” their own friends… ideally making them yours.
For all of that, this twisted way to harass someone approaches the perfect crime.
Lupin is sweet, he’s kind, he’s supposedly good – he constantly puts the blame on others, sugar-coats his words when convenient, or outright lies. I’m not sure I want to fully picture him as someone who could have done what people did to me… because in this case, I’m not sure I’d be able to calmly digest what I imagine Snape had to go through, not only during his Hogwarts years as a student, but also as a psychologically-scarred teacher.