Brow Beat

I Am an Independent, Impartial Scorpion

Yes, I stung a frog last Thursday. I hope everyone can understand that I am just trying to get across this river.

An emperor scorpion trying to escape a glass bowl.
A little help? Don Emmert/Getty Images

I was deeply honored to stand on the river bank July 9 with my scorpion wife to explain to you our plan to travel by frog to the other side of the river.

That night, I told all frogs who I am and what I believe. I talked about my 28-year career as a scorpion, almost all of which has been more or less stinger-free, frogwise. I talked about my 12 years on this side of the river, often called the second most important side in the whole river, and my five years living in a desert burrow, eating spiders and lizards but never amphibians. I talked about my long record of not eating frogs—a majority of the frogs on this side of the river are uneaten—and, after a clarifying discussion of what, if anything, it said in the rulebook about scorpions, as a longtime coach of girls basketball teams.

As I explained that night, a good scorpion must be a passenger—a neutral and impartial rider who abstains from injecting a fatal dose of neurotoxins into anyone else who is helping him or her keep from drowning. Scorpions do not sting frogs to reach a preferred result. Scorpions sting frogs because their nature compels them to. (Except when that scorpion is me, I assure you.) Over the past 12 years, I have sometimes stung flies and sometimes stung spiders, sometimes stung lizards and sometimes stung owls, sometimes stung mice and sometimes stung cats. One time I stung a toddler! In each case, I have made my own decisions, rather than obeying the unceasing demands of my unchangeable scorpion nature. I do not decide whether or not to sting things based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-scorpion scorpion or pro-frog scorpion. I am a pro-crossing-the-river scorpion.

Joint frog-and-scorpion river expeditions must never be viewed as partisan institutions. The travelers do not sit on opposite sides of a sturdy, impossible-to-sting-to-death boat made from metal. They do not sink or swim separately. As I have said repeatedly, if one of you gives me a ride to the other side of the river, I would be part of a team of two, committed to making it to solid ground before anyone—frog or scorpion alike—gets stung or gets paralyzed or gets drowned or gets a valuable but fatal lesson about scorpions and frogs. I would always strive to be a team player.

During the confirmation process, I met with 65 frogs and explained my approach to crossing the river. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my views and experiences, and I believe the seven surviving frogs also found them enlightening. After all those meetings, and all those search warrants, and all those frog bones the frog police found in my burrow, I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations. My diet has been ridiculously distorted. I have faced vile and slanderous croaks and ribbits.

Against that backdrop, I attempted to travel across the river by frog last Thursday to defend my family, my good name, and my ability to lure frogs into my burrow someplace new until the heat was off. At times, my decisions—both in who to sting and when to sting them—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible scorpion conduct completely contrary to my scorpion record and scorpion character. My stinging and stinging and stinging that frog until I was totally out of venom and then stinging and stinging and stinging him some more also reflected my deep anticipatory distress at the unfairness of how frogs would respond to news of what I had done.

I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tarsus was sharp, and I injected a few paralytic neurotoxins I should not have injected. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a scorpion, a scorpion, and also as a scorpion.

Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of scorpion I have been for my entire 28-year scorpion career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent, and dedicated to stinging everything I can, except when crossing this river, because that would not be in my own best interests. I have not changed. I will remain optimistic, on the sunrise side of the river, which is the other side, where one of you frogs will take me. I will continue to see the frog that is coming, not the frog that is gone.

I believe that an independent and impartial frog ferry service is essential to my plans to cross the river. If we undertake this journey, I will keep an open mind with regards to whether or not to sting any frogs along the way. As for my relentless, implacable scorpion nature, which fills me with the constant and utterly irresistible desire to sting, and sting, and sting again, I will always strive to ignore it. I would greatly appreciate it if you frogs would ignore it too.