It is in scorpion’s nature

14 February 2015
Here is an insect with a deadly sting in its tail. You can get that sting in your words as well. As a stinging metaphor, scorpion is a scourge. More diabolic is the fact that scorpion is also a grim metaphor for protagonists of virulent hatred.
So, you can describe polarising politicians who spread hatred among religious groups as communal scorpions. Jews of the world see Adolf Hitler as an anti-Semitic scorpion. The hermit kingdom of North Korea is an Asian scorpion.
Next time you see someone fanning the flames of sectarian sentiments, exhort your friends not to be taken in by the virulent speeches of that scorpion. You need to tell and teach children to steer clear of evil-spreading scorpions.
There is this interesting book by Zahid Hussain titled The Scorpion’s Tail published by Simon and Schuster in 2010. The second title of the book makes the venomous metaphor clear: The relentless rise of Islamic militants in Pakistan – And how it threatens America.
Here is a fable that sheds more light on the stinging scorpion word-metaphor. A scorpion requests a frog to ferry it across a river. When the frog fears that the scorpion will sting him, the scorpion reassures the frog by saying that it will not, since, if it stings, it will die as well.
Assured, the frog carries the scorpion on its back and begins crossing the river. However, mid-stream, the scorpion stings the frog. The dying and the drowning frog asks “why” and the scorpion says “because it is my nature.” So, scorpions and stings are inseparable.
Consider how the foreign policy columnist Conn Hallinan uses this fabled scorpion as a metaphor for capitalism. In his post in the website of huffingtonpost on 9 April 2012, Hallinan was arguing whether capitalism can work in China without all the collateral damages. This is how he ends his post rhetorically: “Can China swim the scorpion across the river and avoid the sting?”
The moral of the story: Remember, both stings and scorpions are metaphor-synonyms.  
Harish Kumar
This is one of the word-chapters in More Metaphoric Madness, which offers expert advice, word-pictures and imagery. Essentially, this book ensures metaphors are longer the exclusive preserve of elite writers. This anecdotal second volume of the Metaphor Madness series is available both as an Kindle ebook (ASIN: BOONPNMZK2) and print-to-order CreateSpace paperback (Title ID: 4916813). It is also available in all Smashwords formats and in its all global distribution outlets.


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