Voltaire never said it,
But that matters not a mite –
He meant it, to his credit,
And he calls on us to fight.
The words may change, but we all know them,
Paraphrased through many pleas –
When times are tough, it’s time to show them,
‘Speshly to our enemies –
“I cannot stand the crap you spew,
I find you ignorant and vile –
But I will pitch my life for you,
To keep you free to spread your bile.”
We do not have to like it,
But by deuce! we must allow it !
Let us strike at those who’d strike it,
Vow to never disavow it.
(Except perhaps when it’s horrific
Vi’lence that’s incited there –
But then those times must be specific,
And they must be bloody rare !)
So however hard they’re hitting,
We must build our hearts of granite –
Though we’re still, of course, permitting
Ev’ry speech that calls to ban it.
Rights aren’t only for the nice,
Or those with better words and clout –
So come on now and tell us twice,
And we shall smile and tune you out.
So say it with me, all of you,
And say it always, come what may –
So Voltaire never said it, true,
But we shall say it, ev’ry day !
Not saying I think strikers are ‘ignorant and vile’ – I just like the painting’s mood of conflict and speech.