Matthew Shepard: The Murder that Started a Cultural Revolution

BY JONAH LAWSON

(Warning: this article contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing.)

The year 1998 brought with it a cultural revolution. Shows such as “Friends” and “Ellen” had already been normalizing homosexuality for years, but that year in September, the popular gay sitcom “Will & Grace” would air for the first time. Social change was running rampant in America, but many corners of the country were resistant to accept it. Only a week after “Will & Grace” aired, a group of University of Wyoming students met up to plan for LGBTQ+ awareness week at their school. After the meeting, one of the students, Matthew Shepard, decided to go down to the local dive bar in Laramie, Wyoming—alone. There, two strangers held a conversation with Shepard and pretended to be gay in order to gain his confidence. After a while, they offered him a ride home and he accepted. During the car ride, these men robbed Shepard and drove him out to a secluded area where they tortured, beat, and pistol-whipped him 19 to 21 times in the head with a .357 magnum hand cannon, causing severe damage to the brain stem. He was found by cyclist Aaron Kreifels 18 hours later tied to a post and left to die. Kreifels called the authorities, but unfortunately he was too late. Matthew Shepard died after six days on October 12, 1998, at Poudre valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the age of 21.

Following his death, the two perpetrators were captured and convicted, and they are currently serving consecutive life terms. After grieving for his loss, Shepard’s mother, inspired by her son’s courage, has worked tirelessly to improve LGBTQ+ life in America. She created the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which provides a voice to struggling LGBTQ+ youth. She also lobbied congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act, which established commiting a crime against someone due to their sexual orientation as a hate crime. Unfortunately, this law wasn’t passed until October 22, 2009 because it failed under both the Clinton and Bush administrations. But even with this progress, along with other milestones such as the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case, there is still much work that needs to be done. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are 20 states that don’t expressly cover a victim’s sexual orientation as a hate crime, including Wyoming where Shepard was murdered. On top of that, there are 29 states that allow LGBT people to be fired on account of their sexual orientation.

Shepard’s family kept his ashes until he was buried on October 26, 2018, at Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC, alongside American heroes Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson. Many of his belongings can be found on display at Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Photo: Matthew Shepard Foundation

An Unexpected Threat From Hurricane Florence: North Carolina’s “Mega-Mosquitoes”

Photo: Entomologist Phil Kaufman shows size comparison between an average-sized mosquito and an American Gallinipper Mosquito. (University of Florida) Credit: Marisol Amador/UF/IFAS

 

BY ELIZA JACKSON-WALD

Hurricanes Florence and Michael demolished North Carolina’s coast—from torrential rains to catastrophic flooding to wind gusts reaching ninety miles per hour. As the southeast is recovering from these monster storms, another complication has surfaced: mosquitoes. Once the clouds shifted and the rain stopped, puddles in coastal regions remained. As this water grew increasingly stagnant, it became the ideal breeding grounds for an aggressive species of mosquito: the American Gallinipper. At almost three times the size of an average mosquito, this mosquito is a particular nuisance; it can inflict a painful bite that penetrates multiple layers of clothing. However, unlike many mosquitoes, these Gallinippers do not transmit deadly diseases like West Nile Virus, Malaria, or Zika.

Gallinipper Mosquitoes are floodwater mosquitoes; the female lays eggs at the edges of bodies of water that are likely to flood in heavy rains. These mosquitoes are especially unique because their eggs can lie dry many years until, after heavy rains, they finally hatch adults. With Hurricane Florence’s widespread flooding, billions of dormant mosquito eggs were hatched at once, posing a threat to the Carolinas in the form of half-inch long “mega-mosquitoes.” Governor Roy Cooper has already allocated $4 million for mosquito control in twenty-seven coastal North Carolina counties and others affected by flooding. As of yet these mosquitoes have not posed a threat to the Triangle area, but if they continue to breed, they may assume the cardinal’s position as North Carolina’s state bird.

Your Guide to the 2018 Local Elections

BY JONAH LAWSON

Listed below are profiles on candidates running for the North Carolina House and Senate in Cary High’s district. This is different from the election for the U.S House and Senate elections going on. If elected, the candidates below will work in our state government, not the national government, to create and pass laws. The NC Senate consists of 50 members and the NC House consists of 120 members, but other than this the two chambers have the same amount of power, unlike the U.S government where the senate is more powerful. On February 6th, the Supreme Court ordered the NC Senate and House districts to be changed through the case North Carolina v. Covington. The Supreme Court ordered this change because it found that the NC legislature had unfairly packed African-Americans into the same districts to weaken their influence, a violation of the fourteenth amendment.

 

NC Senate District 16

Wiley Nickel (D): Ever since graduating from Tulane University with a major in political science and from Pepperdine University with a law degree, Wiley Nickel has dedicated his time to public service. He served as a staffer under both Al Gore during the Clinton White House and Barack Obama, who has endorsed his current campaign. In Cary, Nickel works as a local attorney because he believes that those on trial in the North Carolina justice system should be treated “fairly and compassionately.” He has a wife and two children, whom he loves dearly. His campaign describes him as a “progressive candidate” who wants stronger gun control laws, better public schools, and expanded access to affordable healthcare. He believes it is crucial that he wins because he wants to end the Republican supermajority in our state senate. He beat Luis Toledo in the Democratic primaries 55% to 44%.

Paul Smith (R): Paul Smith is a North Carolina native who received his BA in Political Science from NC State. He married his highschool sweetheart and has three children and eight grandchildren. He was raised to learn and respect the bible and taught his children to do the same, and today one of his sons serves as a missionary overseas. Although Paul has never worked in politics, he owns a small business with several employees. He is a self described “Christian Conservative” who has worked as a baptist deacon since 1972. He supports fewer restrictions on gun ownership, school choice, and strong borders. He ran unopposed in the primaries.

Brian Irving (L): Brian Irving received his BA from the University of the Philippines and his graduate degrees from Webster University and Loyola University. He served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1992. After retiring, Irving and his wife moved to North Carolina, which he grew to love when he was stationed here. He has two children and six grandchildren. Although he has never won a race, Irving has run as a Libertarian candidate in District 16 before. He believes that in order to achieve greater liberty in North Carolina, citizens need to have more choices when it comes to healthcare and schooling. He also believes that there should be less regulations on our economy, especially in regards to licensing, which he claims hurts competition.

 

NC House of Representatives District 11

Allison Dahle (D): Allison Dahle is a Raleigh native who received her BA in Theatre and Music from the University of South Carolina. She has dedicated most of her adult life to helping people with disabilities find jobs by working with the ARC and Columbus industries. In 2003, she settled down at a local law firm, married, and adopted two dogs. She is running for office because she believes that medicaid should be expanded, HB2 should be fully repealed, and common sense gun laws should be passed. In the primary election she beat incumbent Duane Hall, who faced sexual harassment allegations, 68% to 26%.

Tyler Brooks (R): Tyler Brooks received his BA in Latin from Wake Forest University, and then went on to receive his law degree from Vanderbilt University. In Raleigh, he worked as an associate for a law firm and moved up the ranks to partner. Today, he works with the Thomas Moore Law Center and has made a distinguished career for himself and is now a fellow of the American Bar Association. Tyler Brooks believes in increasing funding for teacher pay and school supplies, increasing funding for infrastructure, low taxes, religious liberty, and is pro-life. In the primary election he beat Shawn Hamilton 64% to 35%.

Travis Groo (L): Travis Groo received his BA in Communication Arts from the University of West Florida. Although raised in Texas, he has found a home in North Carolina, where he lives with his two children. He believes in less government restrictions, more choices for children’s education, lower taxes, and more choices for healthcare.

Ballot Measures– a bill that must be voted on by the citizens in order to be enacted

  1. North Carolina Income Tax Cap Amendment: If passed, this amendment will reduce the maximum income tax the state is allowed to take in from 10 percent to 7 percent. The current income tax rate is below 6 percent.
  2. North Carolina Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment: If passed, this amendment will enshrine the right to hunt and fish within our state’s constitution.
  3. North Carolina Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment: If passed, this amendment will give victims the right to know what is happening to the defendant who is accused of committing crimes against that victim.
  4. North Carolina Legislative Appointments to Elections Board and Commissions Amendment: If passed, this amendment will change the way the State Elections board is appointed by preventing the governor from appointing a member. Instead, four members will be chosen by the majority party and four by the minority party.
  5. North Carolina Judicial Selection for Midterm Vacancies Amendment: If passed, this amendment will change how judges are replaced if they vacate their seat early by installing a committee of people chosen by the legislature. The committee will nominate two people to fill the position and the governor will appoint one.
  6. North Carolina Voter ID Amendment: If passed, voters will be required to present a voter ID before voting.

ICE: The Facts

BY ELISE BAGLEY

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding ICE since the Trump administration introduced its “zero-tolerance” policy, which has led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents. In response to this, calls to abolish the agency have emerged.

What is ICE?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE, is responsible for many things, including investigating the illegal movement of people and goods, enforcing immigration laws, and helping to prevent terrorism. They enforce federal laws, both criminal and civil, that relate to immigration, trade, customs, and border control. ICE was created in 2003 as a branch inside the Department of Homeland Security in response to the September 11th attacks.

Why are there calls to abolish ICE?

As more stories of immigrants being deported surface in the news, the calls to abolish ICE have grown louder. The claims that ICE is separating families at the border have helped spark this movement, but according to the ICE chief, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is the agency that is separating the families. Although ICE may not be to blame for separating families, they have been accused of multiple accounts of abuse. In April, The Intercept published an article about 1,224 complaints of sexual and physical abuse. Many people have started to call for the complete reconstruction of this agency. In an interview by CNN on June 29, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York stated, “I believe that it has become a deportation force and I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues.” She goes on to say that the U.S. should reimagine ICE and replace it with something that works.  

Did ICE agents want to abolish the agency?

While it is true that 19 ICE agents wrote a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, they did not call to dissolve ICE. In the letter they state, “We propose to restructure ICE into two separate independent entities of HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] and ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations].” They explain in the letter that the two sub-agencies, HSI and ERO, have evolved and become so separate that “ICE’s mission can no longer be described as a singular, synergistic mission.”

How is ICE helpful?

Although ICE has frequently been critiqued, the agency still has many responsibilities.  ICE’s only purpose is not just deporting illegal immigrants; they also help investigate human trafficking, financial crimes, and the smuggling of illegal goods such as firearms and drugs. In congressman Higgins’ speech on the House floor, he states, “Last year alone, ICE arrested more than 127,000 criminal aliens responsible for: 76,000 dangerous drug offenses; 48,000 assault offenses; 11,000 weapons offenses; 5,000 sexual assault offenses; 2,000 kidnapping offenses; 1,800 homicide offenses.” He continues to say that ICE rescued 518 victims of human trafficking and made more than 4,800 gang related arrests.