Our Opinion: Wilsonians hit a home run for needy families

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THUMBS UP to generous Wilsonians who pitched in to make this year's Home Run for Hunger food drive the largest and most successful to date.

The Wilson Tobs' annual campaign to stock local food banks collected more than 30,000 pounds - that's 15 tons - of donations, with the majority materializing during Sunday's free-admission-with-donation doubleheader. Not only did Tobs spectators haul 8,000 pounds of nonperishable food to Fleming Stadium, but local farms contributed an eye-popping 16,000 pounds of sweet potatoes.

"I have families calling asking for food," Candy Taylor, co-founder of the New Christian Food Pantry, told Times reporter Olivia Neeley, "and I'm telling them that we will have food for them."

Home Run for Hunger meets a pressing need in the summer when food banks see increased demand. Children from low-income families who rely on school breakfast and lunch for the bulk of their nutritional needs may go hungry if not for the efforts of more than a dozen local charities.

Each can, box and bushel of sweet potatoes will benefit a Wilson County family. Wilson has a lot going for it, but the way we help our neighbors in need is what makes our community a truly special place. 

THUMBS DOWN to continued legal wrangling over the common-sense compromise that replaced North Carolina's infamous and much-maligned "bathroom bill."

Plaintiffs challenging House Bill 142, which wiped the unenforceable transgender bathroom ban known as House Bill 2 off the books and placed a moratorium on restroom access rules in the state's counties, cities and towns, claim the new law is discriminatory because it prevents local governments from enacting policies specifically allowing transgender people to use the facilities matching their gender identity.

Fortunately, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder doesn't seem to be buying it and might stop the lawsuit in its tracks.

We think folks are smart enough to figure out which restrooms to use on their own. The HB2 compromise repeal strikes a balance between social custom and personal freedom. More government meddling will only create controversy and confusion. This lawsuit ought to be flushed.

THUMBS UP to a $2.7 million cash infusion that will help the Middlesex Corporate Centre build roads and install water and sewer lines and ultimately attract new industries to southern Nash County. 

The town of Middlesex has been awarded a $1.5 million state grant and $1.2 million in private economic development funding from the Golden Leaf Foundation. A shell building is already in the works at the sprawling 330-acre site, which was wisely built less than a mile from the town's U.S. 264 bypass interchange.

Easy access to 264 and Interstate 95 could make Middlesex an attractive location for any number of businesses that rely on tractor-trailers to distribute their goods. Successful recruitment at the business park will mean dozens to hundreds of new local jobs and a much-needed boost to the town's tax base.

THUMBS DOWN to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is bowing to political correctness and begging off free speech advocacy when the speech in question is deemed offensive to "marginalized communities."

Previously, its attorneys would "disapprove of what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it," to crib from E. Beatrice Hall. Now they'll only fight for people and groups they find agreeable, according to an internal memo leaked to the media last week.

That's the ACLU's prerogative as a private group, but it undermines its noble mission of protecting First Amendment rights for all. The remedy for bad speech is more speech, not government censorship, and narrow-minded, wrongheaded ideas are better exposed to the sunlight of public scrutiny than swept under the rug to fester.

The American Civil Liberties Union used to understand that. Not anymore.