The far right is wrong to be holding a National Gun Appreciation Day on Jan. 19.

The timing could not be worse: It comes two days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is also President Obama's Inauguration Day.

It's only about seven weeks after the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history.

And it comes on the heels of other highly shocking mass shootings, including at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and at the public gathering hosted by then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Each event was executed by a lone gunman with high-powered weapons and, in some cases, enough bullets to kill hundreds of people.

Each event was a national trauma.

Finally, after the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama vowed to take action to protect our children. With Vice President Biden's recommendations, Obama intends to move forward with some sensible gun control measures.

This has set off some diehard gun groups, which have called for Gun Appreciation Day. Backed by conservative political organizations such as the tea party and RedState, the founders of Gun Appreciation Day are urging people to go to their "local gun store, gun range, or gun show" and register their protest against Obama. "Lock and load," their leaflets say.

But the president is not threatening to take away the people's right to bear arms. All he wants is some reasonable regulation.

I'm not saying that gun owners don't have a right to organize a Gun Appreciation Day. But holding a day that celebrates guns so close to a day that celebrates the nonviolent leader of a social movement that changed the nation, a leader who was killed by a gun, is an offensive move.

King, as a young activist with a family that constantly received threats from violent segregationists, had guns in his house. As he became more dedicated to nonviolence, he gave up guns.

In his speeches, he talked about technological and scientific developments outstripping our will as a society to practice brotherhood. "We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools," he said.

Our weaponry is outstripping our ability to live in a safe and compassionate society. Thousands of gun homicides occur in the United States every year, and the weapons are increasingly efficient in liquidating their targets.

We should be mindful that no other advanced society puts up with this kind of violence.

I urge you not to celebrate National Gun Appreciation Day, especially not this weekend.

It is King's weekend, and it's Obama's second inaugural.

These two black men represent hope and achievement for millions in this country and around the world.

It is far better to celebrate them than to stir up dangerous emotions over a nonexistent threat to the Second Amendment.

Starita Smith, Ph.D., has been an award-winning journalist at the Gary Post-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch and the Austin American-Statesman. She can be reached at

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The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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