As calculated by the number of page views at newsobserver.com, here is a list of the seven top-read opinion pieces of the year:
SEPT. 24 Gene Nichol: The governor and the General Assembly just lowered, yet again, the state’s income tax rate. To help pay for it, they enacted a new sales tax on car and appliance repairs. The move continues an apparently defining project of shifting the tax burden from the wealthiest North Carolinians to the poorest. It is hard, no doubt, to believe any government would seize that particular aspiration as its mission. Especially when more Tar Heels live in poverty than ever before and the wealthy take a larger share of the state’s income than has occurred in a hundred years. But such are the leaders we enjoy.
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AUG. 29 Gene Nichol: The level of commitment, professionalism and selfless dedication demonstrated daily by heroes like NaShonda Cooke, Angela Scioli, Brendan Fetters and the other teachers they represent and inspire can barely be comprehended. They instruct with generosity, patience and passion. They lift up children who face our society’s most impenetrable barriers. They push back against unrelenting tides – unwilling to surrender, or retreat, in what might be life’s greatest mission. They move beyond the classroom into troubled and threatened communities – looking our boldest problems in the face, rather than turning from them like the rest of us do.
JULY 24 Wallace McLendon: I lost a lifelong friend today. Not to cancer or to Alzheimer’s but because of a riddle. “Do you know why Obama hasn’t been assassinated?” he asked. I couldn’t bring myself to be a partner in this riddle by playing along. I couldn’t bring myself to say, “No, why hasn’t Obama been assassinated?” It made me sick to my stomach when I shrugged my shoulders just to placate him. I felt I had to participate after all these years of loyalty to this life-long friend. I had to stand and take it – to stand and listen to him repeat his riddle yet one more time.
JUNE 2 Carol Ann Person: I will never forget how painful it was to be told by government officials that they would not give Thomas and me a civil marriage license because of the color of our skin. It was supposed to be a happy day, but instead we were turned away because of somebody else’s religious views and treated like second-class citizens.
SEPT. 1 Blake Dodge: I identify as female. I am apparently a conventionally attractive student-athlete at UNC-Chapel Hill. I grew into my ears a few years back. I have lighter eyes and darker skin, and with the exception of a bit of an eyebrow discrepancy, my face is generally symmetrical. Writing this now, I feel my stomach drop. In a culture that regularly exploits sexuality, it’s ironically unacceptable when women openly acknowledge it themselves. But hear me. The following is a string of subtle and routine occurrences that make me feel less human and should take their rightful place among the larger narrative of sexism in contemporary America.
JULY 20 Meghan Austin: All of my life I have been taught that sports aren’t just about winning and losing, but about teaching life lessons. Throughout my four years at the University of North Carolina, Coach Sylvia Hatchell and her staff did just that.
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JUNE 1 Patrick O’Neill: More important than whatever action the NCAA takes against the University of North Carolina for what is perhaps the worst athletics-academic scandal in collegiate history is what the UNC administration will do to reel in its corrupt athletic department and its aiders and abettors.