Chaos a Hundred Times
between Severus, Lily, MWPP, and Dumbledore
“Whatever you give your dog, your dog will give you right back.
If you give chaos, your dog will give you chaos a hundred times.”
Dog Whisperer: “Peanut, Sunshine, Roxy, and Angus”
Cesar Millan (Italics in the original)
Author’s Note: This article was inspired in part by the discussions on Snapedom about Snape and prejudice (Sailorlum’s original article on 2/19/10, and 00sevvie’s reply on 3/15/10). My thinking about Remus and Sirius as canids rather than people is partly an extrapolation of Mary_j_59’s essay on Snapedom that Black’s behavior towards certain characters makes more sense if we think of him as a dog relating to his pack rather than a person relating to other people. (10/26/08)
Except for minor revisions, this article was finished in June 2010, but I didn’t get around to posting it until now. Any similarities between the ideas presented herein and posts made by other people on this forum or DTCL since June 2010 are just evidence of “great minds thinking alike.”
The numbers in brackets are references to footnotes at the end of the article. There is also a link to episodes of Dog Whisperer online.
Special note to trolls: I couldn’t care less what you think of me or anything I say. Don’t waste your time commenting on this essay because I won’t reply. Snape fans don’t invade your forums; do us the courtesy of not invading ours.
I. Energy Essentials
I first read the Harry Potter books in March and April of 2009. At about the same time, I became a regular viewer of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, which at that time appeared on the National Geographic Channel in the United States, and now appears on Nat Geo Wild. Dog Whisperer quickly became my favorite TV show when I saw I could apply the lessons I learned from it to many areas of my life.
For those who’ve never seen it, this is how the show works: Each segment starts with clips of the misbehaving dog and interviews with the dog’s caretakers describing the problems they have with their pet. Then Cesar arrives and interviews the people. Sometimes he tells them why they’re having problems; other times, he just goes right into the rehabilitation of the dog and the retraining of the people. Depending on how serious the problems are, complete resolution may take over a year, with a month or two being a typical rehab and retraining period.
Millan uses “dog psychology” to rehabilitate dogs. That is, instead of treating dogs as if they’re people, or using traditional dog training techniques, he emulates the behaviors dogs use to control other dogs. This usually involves curling his hand into a claw shape to “bite” or touch the dogs when they misbehave. If a dog is especially aggressive, he forces it onto the ground, making it “submit” to him or to the other animal it wants to attack.
Cesar’s underlying belief is that animals of all species, including humans, communicate through the energy they project. This used to be called “vibrations” or “vibes” in the 1960s and ‘70s. One of his frequent sayings is that you can lie to other people about how you feel; you can even lie to yourself; but you can’t lie to your dog, because s/he can always read your energy and gauge your true emotional state.
This idea is my favorite thing about Millan’s work, since I am also exceptionally good at reading the energy of others, especially men, particularly if a person has a propensity for violence, dishonesty, or criminality. In some cases, I’ve been able to tell such a potential existed more than thirty years before evidence of it became obvious to others.
In his first book, Cesar’s Way, Millan wrote in some detail about the subject of energy and how animals use it to communicate with each other. With his co-author, Melissa Jo Peltier, who is also one of the TV series’ writers and producers, he said:
When it comes to energy, we humans have much more in common with
other animals than we usually like to admit. Imagine one of the most ruthless
jungles in the human world--the high school cafeteria. Picture it as a watering
hole where different species--in this case, the cliques of jocks, nerds, and
stoners--peacefully intermingle. Then a bully “accidentally” bumps into a smaller
guy’s food tray. The energy released by that interaction will ripple right through
the entire room...And exactly as in the animal kingdom, this energy shift doesn’t
even have to be as blatant as a shove. Let’s say the little guy in the cafeteria is
having a bad day. He’s failed two tests in a row and is in a weak state of mind.
He happens to look up and accidentally catch the eye of the bully. Maybe the
bully was just minding his own business, but as soon as he picks up on the
weaker guy’s diminished energy, the whole dynamic between them changes in
a split second. In the animal kingdom, that’s called survival of the fittest...
[A]nimals never cheat or lie their way to power--they can’t. Other animals
would figure them out in a heartbeat. Nature’s leaders must project the most
obvious and uncontestable [sic] strength.... (64-5)
With your dog, you want to project what I call “calm-assertive” energy at all
times. A calm-assertive leader is relaxed but always confident that he or she is
...In our human landscape, they are few and far between, but they are
almost always the most powerful, impressive, and successful people on the
block.... (pp. 68-9)
Because dogs are hierarchical animals, they need to have a “pack leader,” i.e., someone who will take charge and tell them what to do. If their human fails to lead, the dog will take over, not because s/he wants to but because s/he feels s/he has to in order to keep the pack together and functioning properly. As the saying goes, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.”
While humans are a more complicated species than dogs, we share many similarities: Both humans and dogs are predators who live in cooperative, hierarchical groups led by a single leader or a small group of leaders. Our basic emotions are also the same, although the greater complexity of human thought processes gives us more variations on those feelings, as well as a greater ability to distance ourselves from our instincts and hide our feelings from both ourselves and others.
When I evaluated the Potterverse characters from a Dog Whisperer perspective, it immediately became apparent to me that there are NO calm-assertive leaders in the Potterverse. I think Severus and Harry are angry-submissive (i.e., they appear defiant but are really submissive); Sirius, Voldemort, and Dumbledore are angry-aggressive (carefully disguised in the last case); Remus is anxious-submissive (I’m speaking of his energy; his behavior is passive-aggressive.), and so is Ron; Hermione is anxious-dominant; and so on.
Viewing the Potterverse in this light provides an entirely different perspective on the relationships between Severus, Lily, MWPP, and Dumbledore. The last’s complete failure to provide stable, effective, calm-assertive leadership throughout his tenure as Headmaster created a power vacuum at Hogwarts. The rest of the staff was apparently unwilling to usurp his authority, so they failed to provide proper leadership as well. Since the adults refused to take charge, various student factions were forced to step into the breach to compensate, just as dogs will take over a family when humans fail to lead. During the years 1971-78, that student faction was made up of James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. From 1991-97, Harry, Hermione, and Ron took over, occasionally with the assistance of Neville, Luna, and others. There were undoubtedly other student factions in charge at other times for which we have no information.
I’m sure everyone was immediately struck by the similarity between the first paragraph I quoted from Cesar’s Way and the Pensieve scene in “Snape’s Worst Memory.” Just to make the comparison a little more blatant, let me quote the most strikingly similar parts from Order of the Phoenix, with the most relevant passages bolded:
Harry looked around and glimpsed Snape a short way away, moving between
the tables toward the doors into the entrance hall, still absorbed in his own
examination paper. Round-shouldered yet angular, he walked in a twitchy
manner that recalled a spider, his oily hair swinging about his face...
Harry looked anxiously behind him again. Snape remained close by, still
buried in his examination questions...when James and his three friends strode
off down the lawn toward the lake, Snape followed, still poring over the paper
and apparently with no fixed idea of where he was going...
Harry looked over his shoulder yet again and saw, to his delight, that Snape
had settled himself on the grass in the dense shadows of a clump of
bushes. He was as deeply immersed in the O.W.L. paper as ever…
"This'll liven you up, Padfoot," said James quietly. "Look who it is..."
Sirius's head turned. He had become quite still, like a dog that has
scented a rabbit.
"Excellent," he said softly. "Snivellus."
Harry turned to see what Sirius was looking at.
Snape was on his feet again, and was stowing the O.W.L. paper in his bag.
As he emerged from the shadows of the bushes and set off across the
grass, Sirius and James stood up. Lupin and Wormtail remained sitting: Lupin
was still staring down at his book, though his eyes were not moving and a faint
frown line had appeared between his eyebrows. Wormtail was looking from
Sirius and James to Snape with a look of avid anticipation on his face.
(pp. 641-5, emphasis added)
It’s clear from the reactions of James and Sirius, the latter in particular, to the sight of Severus, that they regard him as prey. The narrator even says so outright when he likens Black’s reaction to that of a dog scenting a rabbit. Worse yet, Snape acts like prey, twitching with tension, shuffling along alone with his head down, and paying no attention to his surroundings. He might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that says, “I AM PREY. ATTACK ME NOW.” Mind you, I DO NOT blame him for acting this way. It would be astonishing if he behaved any other way given the constant abuse and harassment he had suffered for almost five years at the hands of MWPP, as well as the gross negligence he’d been subjected to by the staff of Hogwarts, all piled on top of his neglectful and possibly abusive home life.
II. Good Hounds Who Run Silent
“They are good hounds who run silent.”
“Such hounds have a way sooner or later of biting the hand that feeds them.”
Sherlock Holmes warning a woman about her hired goons in
“The Adventure of the Three Gables,”
By Arthur Conan Doyle
When we regard the actions of Remus and Sirius in Prisoner of Azkaban as those of canids rather than humans, many things are made clear that otherwise seem confusing and contradictory, immoral, or even illegal. For example, Lupin said he hid Black’s presence from Dumbledore because Lupin was afraid he’d look bad to his superior if he told how much he knew. Assuming he’s telling the truth, it could also have been because Dumbledore’s weak leadership caused Remus to dismiss him as a pack leader, so Remus no longer considered himself accountable to Albus. If this were the case, Lupin may not have been willing to acknowledge this even to himself because of his shame over his disease. Spineless and self-serving as his stated excuse was, at least it was a human excuse, not a lupine one. Similarly, Lupin’s plan to kill Sirius and Peter on his own is perfectly reasonable for a wolf. Death is the price disloyal pack members have to pay for betraying the pack and being stupid enough to return within striking distance of their former companions.
In the same way, because Black and Lupin regard Snape as prey rather than an equal, they have no reason to treat him with respect, either as students or adults. Snape’s nervousness, discomfort, and defensiveness around them advertise to the other men that he is still just waiting for them to attack him. As Cesar Millan told a couple on his show, “Fear is weak energy. Nature attacks weakness.” (“Dasher, Riley, and Fosse”) So when Lupin refuses to take his wolfsbane potion and then dismisses Snape’s fearfulness, he’s not being callous, selfish, irresponsible, or passive-aggressive. He’s putting a prey animal in its place. Snape’s Patronus is a doe, and deer are the natural prey of wolves. Wolves do not take orders from deer, nor do they care about allaying their prey’s anxiety.
Later, Remus calls Severus a “fool” who still harbors a “schoolboy grudge” about nearly being killed by Lupin as a student. Coming from a human being these are vile sentiments, but from a canid they are perfectly reasonable. As a prey animal, Snape has no right to even complain, let alone bear a grudge, about being treated as he deserves. It’s as if a deer had said, “You horrible wolf! You tried to kill me twenty years ago, and you’re still attacking me! What’s the matter with you?” Of course the wolf is going to reply, “Well, yeah. I’m a wolf, and you’re a deer. What else did you expect, stupid?”
Similarly, when Sirius says in Order of the Phoenix that Severus deserved to nearly get killed as a teenager, he’s speaking the literal truth from a canid perspective. The whole reason Snape exists is to provide food, and possibly entertainment, for his betters, the predators. How dare he complain about that!
The way James and Peter relate to Sirius and Remus is a little more complicated, since their Animagus forms are also prey animals. On several episodes of Dog Whisperer, Cesar has been called in to teach dogs with a high prey drive not to attack animals they would normally treat as food, such as rabbits, chickens, and cats. Millan accomplishes this by first establishing his leadership over the dog. Then he forces it to submit to the prey animal by making the dog lie on the ground while Cesar holds the smaller animal in front of or over the dog. If the dog makes the slightest move towards the prey animal, or even looks at it in a threatening manner, Cesar “bites” the dog with his hand. Eventually the dog learns to accept the other animal as a member of its pack and leave smaller creatures alone.
Regarding Peter, he was accepted by Sirius and Remus as an honorary pack member--as long as he stayed in his “place” by acting properly subservient to them and James. They chose on their own to enact with Pettigrew the same kind of “prey as pack member” acceptance that Millan teaches to dogs on his show.
Although James’s Animagus form was a deer, he was protected by his angry-dominant “predator” energy, unlike Peter, who projected anxious-submissive “prey” energy. So Potter combined a predator’s sensibility with a prey’s form, much like those old cartoons in which prey animals (e.g., Bugs Bunny, Jerry the mouse) violently get the better of predators (Elmer Fudd, Tom the cat).
Furthermore, many recent animal studies show members of different species engage in mutualism, i.e., two or more individuals working together to accomplish a goal neither one can achieve alone. In Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, ethologist and evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff and philosopher Jessica Pierce report that ravens cooperate with both wolves and coyotes to find food. If the birds come across the carcass of a large animal they can’t dismember themselves, they will lead the canids to the body. After the canids have torn the body apart, the ravens help to eat it. (p. 56) Similarly, groupers will invite moray eels to go hunting with them; this cooperation makes it easier for animals of both species to capture prey. (p. 70) While the Potter gang members could--and probably did--individually hunt Snape and their other victims, ganging up made it easier both to find and to overpower their prey.
Looking at the relationships between these males from a primal standpoint adds a dimension to the dynamic between Severus and James as well, since they were both males who wanted the same female, Lily. In the animal world, males usually earn the right to mate with females by defeating other males, either physically (by fighting) or mentally (by outsmarting). While the association between James and Severus may have begun and continued as a predator-prey relationship, once they went through puberty and decided they both wanted Lily as their mate, the antipathy between them escalated along with their hormones.  Attacking Snape went from just being entertainment--and probably stress relief--for James to a deadly serious contest to satisfy his primal need to mate and pass on his genes. For a prey animal--or any low-status male--to want to mate with the female a predator or high-status male has picked out for himself is not just offensive; it’s wrong, a crime against nature. The rival, inferior male has to be attacked repeatedly until he backs off, is killed, or somehow disgraces himself so the female will reject him. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.
The mating drive provides another reason for Sirius and Remus to dismiss Snape’s anger about being set up for maiming and possibly murder. James was not just a member of his pack; he was also the leader of it. Snape’s reproductive rivalry with James meant Potter’s pack members had an obligation to help their leader get the female he wanted. If that meant killing their leader’s rival, so be it.  Fortunately for Severus, James either had better sense than his friends, or was operating from an ungulate perspective, in which males fight each other one-on-one for dominance and females. For whatever reason, he saved his rival’s life.
Also from a primal perspective, it makes perfect sense that Severus never found a mate, at least in canon. He spent his entire reproductive life subservient to his male peers; as an adult he dominated only those males who were too immature to present a serious threat to his mating prospects. In nature, a male that weak would probably never get to mate, and a good thing, too, since genes that inadequate would only water down the gene pool. 
III. The Greater Good and Someone Else’s Bad
“...Dumbledore never really gave up that attitude of ‘what I am doing is for the greater good.’ Which is a pity, because so much of what he did for the greater good ended up being for someone else's bad.”
The Deathly Hallows Sporking Community,
Chapter 18, “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore”
There is one other major point Cesar Millan makes absolutely clear on his show and in his books: Whatever behavioral problems a dog has, they are always the fault of the human caretaker. As he once put it at the end of an episode, “Your dog is like a mirror, reflecting your own energy right back at you.” (“Marley and Piper”) In this way, dogs could be described as a real life Mirror of Erised, acting out, and even magnifying, their human’s deepest emotions, whether the human wants them to or not. The proof of Cesar’s statement has been shown many times on his program: After “bad” dogs spend some time with a calm-assertive human handler, their problems disappear, and they become the balanced and well-behaved canine citizens they were meant to be.
From what we know about Tom Riddle’s years at Hogwarts, the school was never run with an eye to protecting children as well as educating them. In fairness, it must be admitted that nobody is a better liar or more manipulative than a psychopath, even an immature one, so the faculty may deserve to have some slack cut in his case. But as we know, there is one person who provides a bridge between the predation of Riddle in the 1930s and ‘40s and the violence that stalked the school from the 1970s onward: Albus Dumbledore.
This is a man who inaugurated his relationship with Tom Riddle, whom he already knew to be violent, by setting Tom’s wardrobe on fire in an apparent attempt to intimidate the child.  Then, in one of the stupidest fictional decisions of all time, he said nothing to school or government authorities about Tom’s history, instead making sure the boy got a good, solid magical education so he could reach his full potential as a dangerous predator.
But then, what else can we expect from someone who ridiculed and slandered his brother throughout their lives, planned to treat his handicapped sister like a piece of luggage, and whose dearest youthful ambition was to take over the world as a totalitarian dictator in partnership with his One True Love? By definition, totalitarian dictators are violent, predatory, narcissistic psychopaths. There are NO exceptions to this rule.
In his usual self-serving, Galleon-passing fashion, Dumbledore tried to blame his own disgraceful treatment of his family on Gellert Grindelwald, implying that Albus himself had merely been seduced into evil by his love for Gellert. (DH 35) However, the truth slipped out when he admitted to Harry how Albus and Gellert had plotted together to torture and enslave non-magical people. This confession backed up the letter Rita Skeeter discovered in which he rhapsodized to Gellert about taking over the world--strictly for “the greater good,” of course. (DH 18; For psychopaths, the only “greater good” is what’s good for them.) Taken either together or separately, his admission and letter both mean Dumbledore knew exactly what he was getting into when he joined forces with Grindelwald, unlike many of Voldemort’s followers, who couldn’t have known what they were signing up for until it was too late to back out. 
If Harry’s conversation with his dead mentor was a genuine vision of the afterlife, then Dumbledore admitted to Harry he was corrupt from a young age. If it was a comforting hallucination, then Harry subconsciously admitted this ugly truth to himself. It really doesn’t matter regarding the old man’s character, since only the strongest evidence would have made poor, brainwashed, dissociated Harry admit, even in passing to himself while unconscious, that his adored Albus was a ruthless tyrant. Either way, Dumbledore is proven to have been a thoroughly rotten human being.
Some people try to pass off Dumbledore’s early foray into ultimate evil as a brief, youthful indiscretion. If that were the case, we would have seen in his later years some evidence of a change in the way he regarded and treated other people, some acknowledgement on his part that their feelings, needs, desires, and rights were worthy of his consideration. But to the end of his life, he behaved as if others were nothing but tools for him to manipulate for his own ends, objects so insignificant he didn’t need to protect them from incompetent teachers, predatory bullies, or dangerous monsters, let alone tell them he was sending them to their certain deaths. 
The Headmaster spent his entire adult life letting others take the blame for his own cruelties and failures. He started with his parents (for selfishly dying and leaving him to take care of his sister, which led to her death), and continued with Grindelwald, Tom Riddle/Voldemort, Snape (by not using Snape’s information to adequately protect the Potters), and the student factions that ran Hogwarts because he wouldn’t. Even if there were no convenient humans to blame, Dumbledore could always ride his favorite hobby horse, “the greater good.” It was not Cornelius Fudge who was the ultimate Potterverse politician, but Dumbledore himself: When things went right, it was because of his brilliance. When things went wrong, he was never to blame.
This pattern continued literally through his death: Rather than admitting it was his own reckless stupidity that caused his terminal illness and made him vulnerable to the Death Eaters, Dumbledore blamed Severus for the possibility he could be tortured to death by their enemies. He used this prospect to overcome Snape’s conscience and self-interest by laying a guilt trip on the younger man because Snape didn’t want to commit premeditated murder and risk his own soul. This allowed Dumbledore to commit “suicide by Snape” and deflect any murder related soul damage onto his favorite victim rather than himself. This also preserved the old man’s reputation, which would have been severely damaged if he’d taken the coward’s way out and offed himself rather than nobly suffering and dying a natural death (particularly since he was rumored to be a “brave of heart” Gryffindor), or being horribly and dramatically murdered by that awful Death Eater he’d vainly tried to rehabilitate.
Make no mistake: Dumbledore’s death was not “assisted suicide.” At least as that term is typically used, “assisted suicide” refers exclusively to giving a quick and painless death to someone who is already dying but incapable of killing him/herself. Until he’d swallowed the cave poison, the Headmaster was able to live normally and continue his
I have read tens of thousands of books in my life, but only twice before have I seen a situation similar to this one, both times in true crime books by Ann Rule. Each case involved a man who was either a father or a father figure who browbeat one or more people into killing someone for him so he wouldn’t get blamed for the murders. In both cases, the killers were convinced to do something that shocked and horrified them by being told they had to do it to prove their love and loyalty to their father figure. Only if they were bad and selfish would they put their own consciences ahead of what their real or surrogate daddies needed them to do. 
It was disgusting to read about real people behaving so atrociously, but at least in those cases, I could reassure myself only a monstrously depraved person would even ask such a thing of someone else, let alone guilt trip his victims into compliance, particularly if those people were emotionally dependent upon him. That this kind of filth is included in a children’s book is truly appalling. That the author wants us to believe the abuser is “the epitome of goodness” and his victim “a deeply horrible person” is so revolting it beggars description.
IV. The Hogwarts Hunt Club
One of the primary needs of psychopaths is constant excitement, which normal people call chaos. If chaos is not inherent in a situation, psychopaths will go out of their way to create it. Keeping dangerous monsters at Hogwarts was one way Dumbledore kept the school in turmoil. Assigning a likable but incompetent dimwit to teach the potentially dangerous subject of Care of Magical Creatures was another, as was hiring a werewolf who was reluctant to take his wolfsbane potion.
By far the most effective way for him to ensure anarchy was to allow bands of favored students to roam the grounds and prey on other students. Under Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts became less a school than a canned hunting ranch. Canned hunting is an abominable practice in which exotic animals are raised in captivity and kept in a confined space so they can easily be killed for trophies. Because they’re used to being cared for by people, in many cases the animals don’t even try to escape when the “hunters” approach them. They just stand there and wait to be killed.
This is much the same position in which the student victims of Dumbledore’s chosen ones found themselves. Confined to school grounds as they were, the children could run, hide, and sometimes fight back, but they could never truly escape until the school year ended or they graduated. They were trapped by and dependent upon their caretakers, just as the animals on canned hunting ranches are. The animals have a couple of advantages over Hogwarts students, though: They’re well-cared for before they die, since neglect makes for less attractive trophies. And their deaths are relatively quick and painless, so their suffering is fleeting.
By contrast, the victims of bullying suffer indefinitely, living in pain and fear while they are actively victimized, and enduring potentially a lifetime of misery as their abuse is endlessly relived in their own minds and reenacted as future exploitation after they’ve been browbeaten into learned helplessness at school. They even get blamed for their own suffering, being told to “just ignore the bullying and it will go away” while it’s going on and to “get over it” once the attacks end. The reality of human predator instincts and nonverbal communication gives the lie to the first injunction. The fact psychological trauma can cause permanent disruption to the functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems proves the dishonesty of the second.
Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren you do to Me.” (Matthew 25:40) Those words are usually interpreted positively, i.e., to mean that if you do good for others (feeding the hungry, caring for the sick), it’s as if you’re doing it for Jesus himself. However, they can also be interpreted negatively, i.e., to mean that if you hurt someone else, it’s as if you’re also hurting Jesus. For Christians, which Rowling claims to be, imagining Jesus in the persons of bullying victims puts a whole different complexion on society’s practice of blaming victims and minimizing their suffering.
The title of this section comes from a horror novel by John Saul called The Manhattan Hunt Club. It’s about a group of rich and influential people in New York City who take justice into their own hands by kidnapping violent criminals on their way to prison and then releasing them in the sewers under the city. There the members of the Club hunt down their human prey. That is what Dumbledore allowed to happen at Hogwarts--except his victims were children, both prey and predators. 
Jesus also said, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2) When Dumbledore allowed his favorites to abuse other students, he abdicated his pedagogic responsibility to develop their characters as well as their minds, thus corrupting their souls. That made it easier for him to seduce those children psychologically and turn them into his acolytes, which means James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Lily were his victims, too. Most of these smart, talented, promising young people endured unnecessary suffering, and all of their lives were cut short just to gratify the twisted ambitions of a ruthless, selfish, and irresponsible old man. 
Even worse, by shunning most of his students as unworthy of protection and nurturing, Dumbledore caused some of them to seek refuge with Voldemort. There were undoubtedly others who were driven into nervous breakdowns, mental illness, and/or suicide. Because the Harry Potter books are written for children they understandably don’t say this outright, but we know this happens in the real world, so there is no reason to think it didn’t happen in the Potterverse, also. There is even a new word for suicides caused by bullying: bullycide. (Dr. Phil, 10/18/11)
The evidence is clear: Far from being the benevolent sage Rowling wants us to see him as, Albus Dumbledore was a loathsome tyrant, even more evil than Voldemort because at least the latter was honest about his racism, tyrannical ambitions, and willingness to use his own followers in whatever way was necessary to achieve his ends. By contrast, Dumbledore hid his callous manipulations behind a facade of phony concern and good humor that gave new meaning to the phrase smiling damned villain.
It’s apparent from the way he ran Hogwarts that Dumbledore never really changed his domineering and rapacious attitudes toward those he regarded as his “inferiors.” He just changed victims, moving from everyone non-magical everywhere in the world, at least some of whom were adults who could run away or fight back, to exclusively focusing on impressionable, dependent children in the closed and almost inescapable environment of the only magical school in Britain. Then he arranged things so certain privileged students could do his dirty work for him, abusing and degrading those he disdained while he watched from a safe distance that allowed him to claim plausible deniability with a twinkle in his eye.
So Albus Dumbledore became a totalitarian dictator after all, lavishing privilege and pleasure on those he favored while heaping abuse and misery on those he scorned. As he put it to Harry when he talked about enslaving non-magical people, “It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards.” (DH 35) Change “wizards” to “my favorite students,” and you can see how his attitude toward those he despised didn’t change one iota in a century. If anything, he got even more depravedly ambitious with age: As a young man, he was willing to at least give magical people their freedom. After he took over Hogwarts, he escalated his predation by forcing everybody into slavery, either directly by making them his own followers, or indirectly by driving them into the arms of Voldemort. Being coerced into choosing between two psychopathic tyrants is no choice at all. And the person who compels someone to make such a choice is just another kind of slave driver.
Best of all for his ego, Dumbledore didn’t have to share control of his domain with a partner, because if there’s one thing a dictatorial narcissistic psychopath hates, it’s having to share. He alone got to run his own private school fiefdom and army. He even managed to fool much of the wizarding world into believing he was a brilliant, gentle, altruistic leader instead of a stupid, predatory, selfish tyrant.
J. K. Rowling may have intended to write a Christian allegory with the Harry Potter books. What she created instead is a meretricious exemplar of the basest aspects of human nature disguised as a morality play.
 I don’t doubt that at least at first, the main reason James wanted Lily was because she didn’t want him. It must have been incomprehensible to such a spoiled and self-centered boy that anyone could reject him, particularly a girl, since girls existed only to serve males in one way or another. We see this in another part of SWM, when James both threatens Lily and tries to blackmail her into going out with him. No boy who regarded the girl he was attracted to as an autonomous equal would act in that way. Such misogynistic condescension is typical of arrogant jocks, particularly those who’ve been spoiled by their families. This is also consistent with the privileged attitude he shows in his other interactions, i.e., his wholesale bullying of other students, and his vigilante campaign against “dark wizard” Snape. In addition, James was a pureblooded wizard, and British wizarding culture is not only very sexist, it’s also socially backward when compared with the rest of Britain, so such an attitude would fit in well there.
As far as Severus goes, his contemptuous dismissal of James’s alleged superiority was probably a large part of Potter‘s antipathy toward him. How dare a poor, plain, shabbily dressed kid from Nowheresville, Muggleland, act like he was better than the scion of an ancient and wealthy pureblood family! He had to be put in his place to keep the social fabric from being irrevocably torn.
 Neither Black nor Lupin need consciously have been aware of this motivation for it to have been operating. Primal pack instincts could also be why Remus was so willing to forgive Sirius for setting him up as a murderer. Even if Remus wasn’t in on planning the attack, his wolfishness might have made killing his pack leader’s rival seem reasonable to him, particularly since the potential victim was a prey animal.
 The concept of the “right” to mate and reproduce is a human idea. While female animals can usually find a male if they want one, males typically have to either fight or engage in trickery to earn a chance to mate. One would think a Slytherin would be good at the latter if not the former, but as far as Lily was concerned, Snape’s approach was pure Gryffindor. That is, he made a series of direct frontal assaults on James’s reputation, instead of gradually undermining him with subtle disparagement. That’s the reason Severus ultimately lost Lily: He was trying to out-Gryffindor a Gryffindor. Such an effort was bound to end in failure.
 This act is even more egregious when one considers that serial killers usually display a set of behaviors in childhood known as the Homicidal Triad: persistent late bed-wetting, cruelty to animals or other children, and setting fires. (Italics added.) Far from being intimidated when this strange man caused a fiery explosion in front of him, young Tom was probably excited and thrilled, thinking, “Wow! I can’t wait until I learn to do that!”
Granted, the concept of “serial killers” did not exist until the 1960s, and the Homicidal Triad observation was made even later. However, it’s hard to imagine any reasonable, sane adult of any era considering it a good idea to use violence to intimidate a child who is already known to be dangerous and violent. That’s like trying to get rid of a hangover by drinking more alcohol.
 This is why Snape-haters are wrong when they say he is just as bad as Dumbledore. We are never told in canon why Snape joined the Death Eaters, or how much he knew about their true beliefs and aims when he joined. Voldemort was running a genocidal cult, and cults are well known for presenting a benign face to outsiders and a malign one to members. That’s particularly true when they’re trying to recruit new members.
Regarding Albus’s desire to take over the world, if it hadn’t been for Ariana’s death and Gellert’s desertion, both of which were caused by Aberforth’s demand that Albus do his duty by their sister, Albus and Gellert would have been the original European wizard dictators, and Tom would have had to settle for being their minion. Thus Aberforth was the real savior of European magical civilization, not Albus, because Aberforth prevented Albus and Gellert from forming an unstoppable partnership.
 People also try to dismiss Dumbledore’s setting Harry and Severus up to die as something he as a commander believed he had to do to win the war. The argument is that they both knew they could die when they signed up to fight Voldemort, so Dumbledore did nothing wrong when he sent them to their deaths. However, there is a difference between the possibility of death and the certainty of death, just as there is a difference between being a fighter pilot and a kamikaze. Severus and Harry signed up to be fighter pilots; they found out when it was too late to back out that they’d been tricked into becoming kamikazes.
 If You Really Loved Me is about a father who browbeat his teenage daughter into murdering her stepmother for him. Rule told of interviewing this monster in prison, describing the blank emptiness of his eyes, a telltale characteristic of psychopaths. The other book is A Fever in the Heart, in which a loved and respected coach cons some of his students into murdering a romantic rival for him.
Severus was an adult when he was pressured into killing Dumbledore, but he had a filial relationship with the Headmaster, and as others have noted, the old man deliberately kept Snape immature and dependent so he’d be easier to control. And according to Dr. Robert Hare, the world’s foremost expert on psychopaths, it’s impossible for a non-psychopath to out-manipulate a psychopath. Snape had many psychological problems, but psychopathy wasn’t one of them.
 It’s very amusing that Snape’s critics vilify him for joining a terrorist group, completely ignoring that what MWPP did to him and other students was just terrorism by another name.
As Vorpal Blade put it on HMS_STFU about what the Death Eaters believed, “It's not a romantic or dashingly daring and new ideology that rights all previous wrongs. It's a ‘we're superior and you're not and we have the element of fear and surprise on our side and we'll use it every chance we've got.’” (sic, 8/2/10)
That’s the same attitude MWPP took towards the people they tormented, both inside and outside of Hogwarts (the prequel). The victims of violent assaults usually don’t care whether they’re being targeted for political, ideological, or entertainment purposes. They just want the attacks to stop.
Apropos of this, I’ve said for years that domestic violence needs to be renamed in-home terrorism because it doesn’t matter whether you fear having your plane blown up, or getting beaten by a family member. If you are living in terror, you are a victim of terrorism. By the same token, bullying needs to be renamed either school,- home, or work-based terrorism, depending on where it takes place.
If anybody objects to this, I’d refer them to a quote from a Dr. Phil show in which he confronted a verbally abusive parent. He said, "Do you understand that people having bad reactions, psychologically, mentally, emotionally is seven times greater with verbal abuse than it is even with sexual abuse? They are at greater risk for mental illness and dysfunction later in life from verbal abuse than almost any other kind of abuse. This is tragically toxic for this child." (5/4/10, italics in original)
 I think it’s highly likely that one reason James wasn’t carrying his wand when Voldemort attacked was because James had spent his whole life having people protect him from the consequences of his risky actions, so deep down he believed he would always triumph over whatever situation fate put in his way.
Lily’s attempt to beg Voldemort for Harry’s life illustrates both a similar problem and another way in which she and James were alike: She’d spent her life using her good looks and charm to get her way, so, like James, she subconsciously expected begging prettily to win the day for her because it always had in the past.
Bekoff, Marc, and Jessica Pierce, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, 2009
Millan, Cesar, with Melissa Jo Peltier, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems, New York: Harmony Books, 2006
Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, New York: Scholastic, 2007
------------------, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, New York: Scholastic, 2003
------------------, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, New York: Scholastic, 1999
Rule, Ann, A Fever in the Heart, New York: Pocket Books, 1997
-------------, If You Really Loved Me, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991
Dog Whisperer Episodes
“Dasher, Riley, and Fosse,” 2006
“Marley and Piper,” 2008
“Peanut, Sunshine, Roxy, and Angus,” 2008
J. K. Rowling Quotations
“I loved writing Dumbledore, and Dumbledore is the epitome of goodness.” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/200
“It’s fun to write about Snape because he’s a deeply horrible person.” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/199