On Friday, an anonymous group called Scorpions X published a 16-page imitation of The Sun under the banner, “The Cornell Nightly Moon.” The issue contained a series of articles mocking and condemning the University’s response to a string of recent reported sexual and racial assaults. Shortly after the issue hit newsstands, Scorpions X sent an email from a fake account impersonating President David Skorton commenting on the issue. The group implores the University to take responsibility, yet, by insisting on anonymity, Scorpions X itself eschews responsibility and is in turn awash in hypocrisy.
Though the identities of its member or members are unknown, Scorpions X has expressed significant intellectual confluence with recent student demonstrations. Articles in “The Cornell Nightly Moon” include a list of the same demands delivered after a protest at the Sigma Pi fraternity last spring and voice many of the same frustrations as those aired at a sit-in at Day Hall Friday.
Behind the veil of anonymity, however, the publication puts forth far bolder assertions and stipulations than the protesters have. In line with videos and other media previously circulated by Scorpions X, the Nightly Moon directly and personally attacks several Cornell administrators, for instance calling Renee Alexander ’74, director of intercultural programs, “Alexandria Renard, director of the Center for Fluff-and-Stuff.” It goes on to fault Alexander for “exploitation” and for allegedly failing to acknowledge the survivors of a racial attack at a recent forum. The publication also excoriates Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, vice president of student and academic services, for what it calls her misplaced efforts to advise women how to stay safe on campus.
Without commenting on the message or methodology of the group, The Sun calls on Scorpions X to either drop its highly personal vitriol or step forward and reveal the names of its members. Refusing to take credit for its message allows the dangerous escalation of rhetoric and hyperbole without fear of repercussion. Additionally, unlike the editorials in The Sun — for which the editorial board, represented by the editor-in-chief, is accountable — Scorpions X’s unsigned barbs provide no forum for response.
The only mention of, and potential justification for, the group’s anonymity comes at the bottom of an article in “The Nightly Moon” titled “a structural solution to a structural problem.” “We find power in anonymity,” the editorial states. We find only cowardice.