.

Bite Your Tongue

If you should feel the sudden urge
__To put forth your opinions,
Letting sundry thoughts diverge
__To influence the minions.
Just take a moment to reflect
__On whether to opine,
Or shut-up and inject
__Another soothing anodyne.

If you should find yourself about
__To state your point of view,
Perhaps vociferously flout
__The current ballyhoo.
Remember words that you inflict
__That might be termed taboo,
You’re courting grief if you depict
__The government as snafu.

Consider, think and speculate,
__Review, regard and judge.
Question, doubt, repudiate,
__Reject… deny the sludge.
No wait! We’re not allowed to think,
__We’re mired in the dung,
They’re coming after pen and ink,
__Forget it. Bite your tongue.

Thoughts are nice and speech is free,
__Unless you want to share it.
You can’t express your repartee,
__The wokesters cannot bear it.
So whether or not you disagree,
__No matter… old or young,
The year is twenty, twenty-three…
__You’d better bite your tongue.

.

.

Norma Pain was born in Liverpool, England and now lives in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty of Norma’s poems were published by Dana Literary Society, between 2004 and 2007 and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize by that same on-line poetry site. She self-published a book of rhyme in 2000 called Bulging Assets.


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72 Responses

  1. Paul Buchheit

    You’re right about the threat to free speech, Norma. And it’s coming from both sides: the banning of words and images from one side, the banning of books and courses from the other.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      You’re right, Paul, but don’t worry the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the entire Democratic Party are working hard to stop the terrorist parents that are starting this terrible insurrection against the caring School Boards all over the country.
      It is a crying shame that these parents cannot see the good that comes from children reading “pornography.”

      Here are a few of these troglodyte parents.

      https://rumble.com/search/all?q=Parents%20at%20school%20board

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Speaking of teaching classes… when my kids were first learning to ride their bikes, I taught them what I had learned. Remember to keep your eyes on where you’re going. Don’t think about, or look at any obstacles. Have fun.
        Well, my little girl cycled straight into a stop sign. About a year later my little boy steered into a mailbox. So I told them the same thing again. They never ran into obstacles again.
        If we want smooth sailing, we have to keep our eyes focused ahead… what we focus on will become our destiny.
        It really is time we got back to the basics, and depths, of love.
        CRT is stupid… it really is.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Paul, I notice that whenever someone attacks the left, you’re quick to say that the right is just as guilty. Even if that were true, the left would still be the far greater threat to everything we all hold dear. Defending the left by attacking the right is like, when someone talks about Nazi concentration camps, saying that the United States was just as bad because of Japanese internment camps. In both cases, it doesn’t even come close to being a fair comparison.

      Reply
      • Paul Buchheit

        Joshua, my posting said that both sides are guilty of overreacting to perceived injustices.

        As for severity of threats to our country, it seems that refusing to admit to hundreds of years of racism is pretty significant.

      • Mike Bryant

        Paul, are you a racist?

        More to the point.
        Rasmussen did a poll on the question:
        Is it OK to be white? Yeah, I know that it has been labeled “HATE SPEECH” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but it is not hate speech… it is a simple question that deserves an answer.
        Well, Americans have answered it loud and clear.

        ‘It’s OK to be white,’ agree 72%, including 53% of blacks

        https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/it-s-ok-to-be-white-agree-72-including-53-of-blacks/ar-AA17Oak3

        So, why is it hate speech? Because it is true. But that is NOT the woke narrative, is it?

      • Mike Bryant

        I guess Susan gets a pass because she’s a descendant of William Wilberforce, or maybe it’s not ok because she’s white… but, but wasn’t Wilberforce. This is so confusing. But I’m sure you will have a good explanation.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Can it be that Paul Buchheit doesn’t recognize the blatant anti-white racism of Critical Race Theory, and its generalized contempt for all European and Western culture?

        By the way, that isn’t an insult. It’s just a question.

      • Paul Buchheit

        Many of you condemn “cancel culture.” But you seem to accept the cancellation of college classes that try to study the facts about the history of racism.

        That’s not an insult, either. I’m trying to understand your mindset.

      • Mike Bryant

        Classes on racism… to what end? I believe, to Norma’s point, that classes on LOVE, or perhaps on the fact that slavery has been a part of every culture throughout history, or perhaps about the culture that put an end to slavery. Maybe there should be a class that delves into Wilberforce’s early influences and why those influences drove him to lead the charge that put slavery into the past… at least in the West. Perhaps there should be a class about the slavery that is occurring now in China and in the Mideast. Definitely should be a class that explores ways to end sex trafficking in children, girls and boys of all races.
        CRT is a theory arrived at for the purpose of driving us apart, just as Norma said. The old “workers of the world unite” thing isn’t working anymore so they must divide us on a thousand different fronts, racism is only one of them.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Paul, it’s true that there are people on both sides who overreact, because that’s human nature. My issue is not with that.

        I don’t deny hundreds of years of racism, but now that we’re opening this can of worms, the left is guilty of far worse. The Abortion Holocaust, for one. (That alone dwarfs the Nazi Holocaust in not just size, but every moral dimension.) Mutilating children in the name of transgender “rights” and sexualizing them far too early. Giving fathers (and, thanks to CPS, mothers more and more) no more legal right to their homes and families than slaves before the Civil War, discouraging mothers from staying at home, and thus effectively destroying the family. Silencing and undermining religion, the one good influence our country (or any other) had. The list goes on.

        Whatever perceived offenses you can name that the right may have done, bringing them up in light of the horrors inflicted by the left is like saying that an apple thief is as guilty as all who participated in the 9/11 attacks. What you’re saying is, “It’s time we stopped harassing the child butcherers and culture destroyers and went after the real criminals: people who judge one another based on skin color!”

      • Paul Buchheit

        It’s been a stimulating conversation, but I have to bow out for a family activity. Let me say that, despite what some of you may think, I respect conservatives and their (your) values. I just find some of it difficult to understand.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        If that’s the case, Paul, then ask us your questions instead of attacking our positions. We’ll be happy to answer.

      • Patricia Allred

        Joshua! A terrific observation. As a retired teacher, this is exactly how children behave. They in no way they will-own up to the reality, that they lied. Sadly, they go on through . the blame game.
        They don’t know what integrity is! Using news sources that with have a long history of lying changes nothing but keeps us stuck in a world of ignorance. Social media, Fake news, out to crush Conservatives.
        News flash for all.Conservatives **
        NEWSMAX.COM IS BCK ON AIR
        AS OF TODAY.
        TRUMP RALLY on this SATURDAY, 3/25/2023

        MAGA! Patricia

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Paul. “The Devil is in the details”, and the powers that be are achieving their goals of having us all angry and divided. I believe that this is what they want. Divide and conquer. Power and money can achieve this, if we let it.

      Reply
  2. Mike Bryant

    Great poem, well-crafted, timely, topical and amusing. Really love this one, Norma.

    Reply
  3. Mark Stellinga

    Wonderful piece, Norma, and every bit so disgustingly true. As we all know, it’s even worse, if that’s possible, in Canada and the UK – 2 societies that had long been strongholds for the democratic perspectives we WERE enjoying here in America.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for commenting Mark. I live in Canada and I am disgusted and horrified at the direction the Liberal party is heading.

      Reply
  4. Brian A Yapko

    Absolutely brilliant, Norma. And painfully accurate. “The wokesters cannot bear it” indeed.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Brian. I would love to not hear so much of these new words/phrases, such as wokesters; cancel culture; booster dose; plant-based; EUA; safe and effective, etc. I’m so tired of it all.

      Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, thank you for this astute, well-crafted, poetic look at the wicked web the “wokesters” weave. “The year is twenty, twenty-three… /You’d better bite your tongue.” pretty much sums up the attitude of these hypocritical whingers who think free speech is just for them. Very well done indeed!

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Susan, you are my inspiration each day and your words and poetry help me to keep trying to do my best. Thank you.

      Reply
  6. Theresa Dould Cummings

    I think that the point being made is not one’s opinion but that it has often been clothed with insulting and disparaging comments. I enjoy a lively discourse between friends and others; but when it is clothed in insulting personal comments, then I may take umbrage.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Theresa, I appreciate your comment, but feel there is something much more important than “disparaging comments” mentioned here in Norma’s poem. The title says it’s “Loss of Free Speech” and Evan’s image points to where that leads. The term “wokesters” points to the culprits, and the consequences are evident before our eyes on a daily basis: Parents who oppose school books that contain graphic material on sexual acts are labeled “domestic terrorists” by the very government who is supposedly working on our behalf.
      Anyone speaking out against the castration and mutilation of minors in the name of “care” is labeled homophobic and their speech is labeled “hate speech” by the very government supposedly working on our behalf. Parents refusing to go down the “preferred pronoun path” which leads to the same hormone blockers pedophiles in prison are given to chemically castrate them, resulting in irreversible damage, are separated from their children… some have been imprisoned by the government supposedly working on our behalf… and the list goes on. It’s gone way beyond whether or not our ill-chosen words have offended a friend or family member… it’s gone down dark avenues that lead to slaughter – history tells us so. It goes beyond political stance… we are now entering the realm of conscience – good versus evil, and if one cannot see that the sexualization and mutilation of minors is wrong, our society is depraved and in trouble. I’m worried, and it’s poetry like Norma’s that makes me want to stand up and shout out for those who have no voice… if I offend some along the way, I’m afraid that’s the nature of where we’re at today.

      Reply
      • Theresa Dould Cummings

        There is a fine line between one’s own opinion and a personal insult. Please, insult my opinion. I spent many years working with adults with developmental disabilities and having worked as their advocate, maybe I am overly sensitive to the rights of a person’s own personal opinions. Say what you will, but please leave your own personal remarks about me, elsewhere.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Theresa, I don’t know whether your comment is a general comment or whether it is directed at me. If it is directed at me, I certainly had no intention of offending you. I don’t set out to offend anyone. I just impart with what I know and if the content of what I say offends, that is the very nature of free speech. I respect your opinion and your right to express it and I hear what you’re saying – I thought that came across in my reply. The sad thing is, we might well be on the same side when it comes to being an advocate for the vulnerable who cannot speak up for themselves… it’s just that the interpretation of language is such that everyone is in danger of being so sensitive the bigger picture is lost.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Theresa, there is no such fine line. Personal opinion is, “I believe X because of Y.” A personal insult is, “You’re hateful/stupid/ugly/etc.”

        Susan said nothing personally offensive against you or anyone else. All she said is that there are a lot of people, particularly on the political left, who believe that free speech is for them and no one else. That’s not even an opinion; that’s a fact. You seem to have no problem trying to suppress Susan’s free speech, a perfect example of what she and Norma are talking about.

        Why do you pick on Susan? I’ve written poems far more offensive than anything she’s saying in these comments.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I don’t think Susan Bryant said anything in her comments here that could be construed as “offensive” or “personally insulting” to anyone.

        But I do think that when conservatives start going on about how we have to be thoughtful and mild and friendly and soft-spoken (etc. etc. etc.) when speaking on hot-button issues, then they have already surrendered to the enemy.

        The Left insults and bullies us all the time, and will never stop. Are we never supposed to fight back? (Please — no scriptural quotes.)

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    The only way to stop left-liberals and wokesters is to use the most provocative and offensive language we can, and to tell anyone who objects that they can drop dead.

    And that includes our pious, mealy-mouthed conservative “allies” who blather on about being mild-mannered and forbearing and understanding. Epicene weaklings like that have gotten us nowhere.

    Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Joe, I find myself agreeing with you more and more. You, Susan, Brian, and others have been a huge help in getting to this point. I’ve learned to revel in being hated by the woke mainstream culture for speaking up for what is right.

      Reply
    • Patricia Allred

      Joseph…..agree totally. Mealy mouthed conservatives do exactly as you say!
      And far worse. They run from you, hide in poems about bunnies, never want to be openly conservative, as the punishment for doing so, at leftist poet sites, is not being read at all.. the mind set is akin to the lyrics of Lennon’s , “Imagine!”. One must keep poems in line with liberal thought. It’s mandate is madness and denial!

      Patricia

      Reply
  8. Yael

    Great poem Norma; sounds like you got the finger on the dying pulse of the body politic. Your last stanza sums it up nicely: “The wokesters cannot bear it”.
    I believe the reason they cannot bear it is because the truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth, due to the fact that the truth is a person and not a personal opinion. According to the Bible that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the truth and the way and his word is the double edged sword which divides the truth from lies and causes judgement to come on men “in the last day”. The “wokesters”, speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared, feel that they have no choice but to fight with all their might against anyone who reminds them of the truth because they hate Him.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Yael. I really appreciate your comments. I remember a little saying from my scary school days, that needs to be recalled more often than it is, by people who keep crying about their hurt feelings:
      “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. It is a very difficult lesson to learn but well worth the effort.

      Reply
      • Joshua C. Frank

        For anyone who may need to hear this: I found that “sticks and stones, etc.” never worked. What I’ve found helpful is to revel in being hated by certain kinds of people. After all, given that what they value is exactly the opposite of what I value, if they hate me, I must be on the right track. When those two liberals trolled the comments section of my poem “Unholy Orders,” I told them both I was honored, and I meant it.

  9. Cheryl Corey

    Perfect, Norma. I especially like “deny the sludge” and “mired in the dung”.

    Reply
  10. Mike Bryant

    The thing about free speech is that people are often offended by off the cuff remarks, words, opinions, and especially by the truth. The current understanding of life is that each person has their own truth, and that each truth IS true. That is a lie. By saying that… I have offended some people. Free speech actually MEANS the freedom to offend people with speech.
    If no one can ever offend anyone, then mutilating children is ok, murder is ok… EVERYTHING is ok, and we should humbly smile, nod approvingly and shuffle off into the slavery of those who determine the truth. The truth now is that mutilating our children is ok. The only bad thing is offending those “wokesters.” It is just fine when they offend, cancel, demonize and demonetize anyone who does not go along with the current insanities.
    Huckabee Sanders, is right… it’s not right and left anymore, it’s sanity and sadistic insanity.
    True words do not harm… insanity does.

    Reply
  11. Joshua C. Frank

    Norma, very well said, especially the last two lines: “The year is twenty, twenty-three…/You’d better bite your tongue.” Of course, that’s only true if we have an opinion that doesn’t fit the woke party line. They can feel free to spout this propaganda all they want, and then they act as if it’s somehow rebellious. People like us are the real revolutionaries, or more accurately, counter-revolutionaries.

    I have a strong feeling that in 2033, 2043, etc., we’re going to look back at those lines and say, “Just wait!”

    Reply
  12. Paul Freeman

    Fair point, Norma, and as always a piece of poetry that gallops along.

    Those who want to curtail free speech often set themselves up as ‘custodians of the truth’, an arrogant stance that broaches no discourse.

    That’s all.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      But Paul, your speech has not been curtailed here, in fact you have your say, and when someone questions or contradicts you, you turn tail and run. The only person who curtails your speech is you yourself. Let’s get on with the discourse, then.
      Maybe you can explain why it’s ok to mutilate children.

      Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Mike is right; free speech has to be earned, if nothing else, by being willing to stand up for what you believe in and discuss it fairly without resorting to personal attacks. Because if you’re not willing to do that, what’s the point of having freedom of speech?

      Reply
  13. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Norma, you captured the current free versus bound in chains free speech social situation with verve and accuracy! Great job of confronting the problem and deftly exposing the wokesters and other pretenders that castigate with aspersions and then attempt to silence the critics.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for all of your comments Roy. I am rather overwhelmed at all of the responses to my little poem.

      Reply
  14. Mia

    This is such a well composed, fun poem about a subject that is incredibly sad and upsetting. Friends are turning on friends if they dare to question, even politely the accepted mantras. I absolutely love that you are biting your tongue whilst not biting your tongue in such a poetic way!
    PS I had to look up the word snafu. What a word. Love it , thank you .

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      SNAFU is from World War II, an acronym invented by American soldiers who knew that their army was adept at doing things in an absurd manner.

      SITUATION NORMAL, ALL F——D UP.

      Reply
      • Norma Pain

        Thank you for the info on ‘snafu’ Joseph. Very funny. So I think I used the word correctly!

    • Norma Pain

      Mia, I love your clever comment on my biting my tongue whilst not biting my tongue. Thank you. I must confess that snafu was new to me too. Amazing how many new words you learn from the rhyming dictionary.

      Reply
  15. Margaret Coats

    Norma, congratulations on this lightly-spoken but serious and effective defense of free speech. Thanks as well, you commentors who understand the reality of our situation, for the precise and necessary explanations you have given above. This situation is grave. Norma’s poem says, ironically, “Thoughts are nice and speech is free,” but when we think back less than two months to Susan Jarvis Bryant’s poem for Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, we have to remember Vaughan-Spruce was in legal trouble not for anything she said, but for what she thought in silence. She was questioned about the offense she could have committed by quietly THINKING.

    Congratulations also to Evan for the superb illustration. Thomas Becket earned high position as a friend of the state. The king confidently expected him to do the bidding of the state in all things, even when this was contrary to his duty to God and the Church as archbishop. We have seen many of today’s clerics speak and act on behalf of the state. Becket had to change his behavior and his loyalties to speak on the side of truth and right. Yes, one side was right and the other wrong. It cost Becket his life to speak and act in accord with truth–but he is the admirable victor in this conflict. Freedom of speech befits the dignity of the human person, even the ignorant or malicious person, but it is meaningful for the sake of truth, not for the chaos of conflicting opinions. Norma’s poem gives expression to that principle by imagining reasons for which a speaker might choose not to speak in a way that could cause conflict with oppressive authority.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Margaret, thank you so much for your response to my poem. Your words and explanations are greatly appreciated.

      Reply
  16. C.B. Anderson

    Once again, Norma, you are spot-on in your observations and in your mastery of poetic forms. I don’t know what it is about you British imports that makes you so attuned to traditional American values, but I always love the results as expressed in the poems you post here.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      C.B., thank you very much for your lovely comments on my poem. Your opinion means a lot.

      Reply
  17. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, you are a class act to attract so much comment. I read this just as Puffin books have bowed to public pressure to leave Roald Dahl alone. The woke brigade can never silence our generation.
    One of your best today. Well done.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Jeff, thank you very much for your comments. It is good to hear that Puffin books have come to their senses. Hopefully this is a future trend.

      Reply
  18. Joseph S. Salemi

    The Puffin publishers haven’t come to their senses. They simply got scared shitless by the outcry against their censorship, and issued a lying press release that said they would respect the integrity of Dahl’s original text in some printings, but use the bowdlerized new versions for general publication.

    This is the typical way that big businesses operate today — kiss every ass in sight, but always be sure to placate the activist politically correct part of the population first.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Outright lying seems to be becoming normal for so many people/businesses. Honesty and integrity are quickly eroding as many people jump on board the sinking ship.

      Reply
  19. Michael Pietrack

    I saw a quote that may be apropos to this poem. It said something to this end:

    If you can get someone fired for something they say – not slander, not harassments, but merely their opinion about a topic – you are not the oppressed but the oppressor.

    Reply
  20. AB Brown

    Love this, Norma. Hilarious but makes a serious point. Almost every rhyme is a riot! Opine/anodyne probably my favorite.

    Reply
    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments Andrew. If I can get my point across with humor, then I am very pleased.

      Reply

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