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Michigan official attacks gay student body president in blog

Jenna Johnson

Soon after University of Michigan students elected their first openly gay student body president this spring, a Michigan assistant attorney general started Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog to monitor the student leader's every move.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan alum, accuses Armstrong of being "a dangerous homosexual 'rights' extremist," among other things. Shirvell chronicles Armstrong's dating life, posts video taken outside the student's house, writes about Armstrong's family and follows the student's friends on Facebook. The first blog post features a photo of Armstrong overlaid with a rainbow flag and a swastika, plus the word "resign."

The state official is demanding that the student official resign. Students are demanding that the state official lose his job.

Earlier this week, Armstrong responded to these attacks by reading a statement at an assembly meeting, the Michigan Daily reported: "I will not back down. I will not flinch. I will not falter. I will not succumb to any unwarranted attacks. What I will do is I will carry on with the utmost pride and vindication."

Shirvell appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN Wednesday night and said, "I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he's advancing a radical homosexual agenda."

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox scolded Shirvell for his criticism of the student body president, but said in a statement that "all state employees have a right to free speech outside working hours," the Detroit Free Press reported. He also appeared on Anderson Cooper's show to discuss the issue.

In a staff editorial, the Michigan Daily demanded that Shirvell be removed from office:

Shirvell's increasingly extreme actions of discrimination aren't the result of a lapse in judgment. His behavior does not stem from immaturity. It stems from hatred. And this type of hatred makes Shirvell unsuitable to remain a government official. It will affect his ability to objectively interpret laws -- which is the job of the attorney general's office. It's unacceptable that Cox hasn't dismissed a member of his staff who is so blatantly bigoted.

By Jenna Johnson  | September 30, 2010; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Student Government  | Tags:  University of Michigan  
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What's most disturbing about this is that the Michigan State Attorney General is giving cover to one of his employees in that employee's stalking of a victim. The Michigan Penal Code can easily be found online, and Shirvell's behavior clearly fits the definitions therein given for stalking. First Amendment rights do not give protection for stalking. Were Cox instead of Armstrong the one being stalked, with unconsented contact of the prime victim and his family and friends, unconsented contact that even includes the filming of the victim's place of residence, Cox would understand he was being stalked. Why are the anti-stalking laws not being upheld? Shirvell's demented behavior is *worrisome.* Anybody being stalked in that way would be worried and frightened about what the demented perpetrator was going to do next. Why has Cox not reached out to Armstrong to instruct him on how to obtain a restraining order against Shirvell? Would anybody in their right mind go to the house of a student body president to "protest" what he was doing as president? Shirvell is clearly deranged. Armstrong is so young; he may not be aware of his legal options and his rights against Shirvell. It is disgraceful that a state Attorney General sees what is plainly a stalking case, with the perpetrator being one of his employees, and yet claims that the perpetrator's stalking of the victim is an exercise of free speech. It appears there is one set of anti-stalking laws for heterosexuals and another for gay victims being stalked by government employees.

Posted by: ScottRose | September 30, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Armstrong is being stalked. If I were a Michigan resident, I would be appalled that one of my elected officials had nothing better to do with his time than harass someone who has broken no laws. Would he do the same to a political opponent?

Perhaps Armstrong's friends and family should file an harassment suit, I don't see how they would lose. Honestly, that official sounds deranged and unstable.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | September 30, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Doe he have a wife? Children? Parents?
Nieces? Nephews?

Someone should post the Asst. AG's family online, and see how it feels

Posted by: newagent99 | September 30, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

This is a great argument for smaller government--Michigan can start by canning this idiot. (I of course have no problem with the fact that he's a Right-Wing moron; I just object to his advancing his radical heterosexual agenda.)

Posted by: dane1 | September 30, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

The assistant AG is an embarrassment to the University of Michigan as well as to me and other Michigan alumni.What kind of a man picks on a kid? What type of mind believes that people can be "persuaded" to join the gay lifestyle? Being gay is almost always a given, not a choice. Perhaps Shirvell is so homophobic because he's uncertain of his own sexual identity, as is often the case.

Posted by: caffertycom | September 30, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

This Shirvell is not only a rabid hate-filled stalker, he exhibits the potential to murder this young man. Remember that sick coward who murdered Harvey Milk?
If the law inforcement authories in Michigan don't stop this insane bigot, than they be should be held as accessories if this dirtball kills the young man who's home he is stalking. We all witnessed what happened when Bill O'Reilly went on his TV show every single day demonizing Dr Tiller,
calling him a murderer, satan, and all kinds of vile things using his own hysteria to ramp up pure hatred towards the doctor until one of his evil followers did O'Reilly's bidding and murdered the doctor. O'Reilly immediately shut up and stop talking about Dr. Tiller and the killer he persuaded to murder him.
This is what Shirvell is potentially capable of. God help the young man he has targeted his evil at.

Posted by: papafritz571 | September 30, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Disgraceful and an embarassment for Michigan. What has been missed here is that Armstrong was ELECTED by the student body. Does Shirvell have the right, or authority, to push for the dismissal of a democratically elected student official? It is obvious that the student body knows that Armstrong is gay and elected him to the post. As to the Michigan AG, for shame and I agree with other posters that the explanation of freedom of speech outside of working hours does not cut it. Certainly, as argued, this smacks of elements of stalking. Does Michigan have anti harrassment laws or invasion of privacy laws? - I haven't done the research. Seems to me that surreptiously taking video of the subjects home and some of these other actions certainly fit the elements of invasion of privacy laws in other states. What the heck, by the way, is a "radical homosexual agenda". Following logic, assuming, arguendo, Armstrong was pursuing such an "agenda", his fellow students elected him to do so, therefore, what is Shirvell's right in trying to force him to resign if elected to pursue a certain agenda? Shirvell might also be engaging in the beginnings of a hate crime. As such, he is not fit for government office and should be dismissed, off hours or not.

Posted by: fwillyhess | October 1, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I will bet that Shirvell has posted to his blog from his official government computer. Why doesn't Cox look into that? Yea, you have a first amendment right to be a bigot. You don't have a first amendment right to stalk, harrass, lie, or use government resources, in conveying your speech.

Posted by: gasmonkey | October 1, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Shirvell is extremely obsessed with this young man. He is reacting more like a spurned boyfriend than someone opposed to another person's views. I would get a restraining order against this nut.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | October 1, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

I am openly straight!!!

Will I get special treatment, world-wide media attention for saying so?

Thank you very much.

Posted by: momof20yo | October 1, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Just read a report that says that Shirvell is banned from the Univ. of Michigan campus and that Cox has suspended him. He needs to be fired.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | October 1, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure that he will have a career in politics. What a potential slogan: Vote for me and Shrivell your teabag!

Posted by: baseballguy | October 1, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

UNBELIEVABLE, don't back down armstrong...

Posted by: destewar | October 1, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I am openly straight!!!

Will I get special treatment, world-wide media attention for saying so?

Thank you very much.

Posted by: momof20yo | October 1, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I think you may have missed the storyline in your rush to spout canned talking points. This obsessed nutbar of a state AG official is the one getting world-wide attention for his bizarre and inexplicable stalking of a student body president. The UM prez didn't put himself in the news or receive any sort of special treatment.

Posted by: ModestProposal | October 1, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Another Right-Wingnut-closet case?!

Posted by: 10bestfan | October 1, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I watched this Shirvell on TV and a couple things jumped out at me. Opinion first was 'This clown is a couple French fries short of a happy meal' and item next was that this guy seems infatuated with this young man. Maybe Shirvell is closer to the 'gay' feelings than he admits? But.... the AG is the one person who lost the most respect and support for his inaction on this issue.

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | October 1, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Amazing with todays news stories of stalking,,suicides by bullying etc,,this should be a pert of those items

Posted by: gonville1 | October 1, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

A single 30-year old male lawyer harrassing a 21-year old college student. If the student's name had been Christina instead of Christopher this would have a totally different angle. However the reporter misses the point. I agree with the comments that this is stalking behavior. Parked outside a home filming at 1:30 AM. How often does he do that? Every night? Simple open and shut case. Mr. Armstrong should get a restraining order if he has not done so already.

Posted by: sdiaz4 | October 1, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

sdiaz4: "However the reporter misses the point. I agree with the comments that this is stalking behavior."

Agreed. The headline to this post is "Michigan official attacks gay student body president in blog," which highlights the least offensive part of the whole story. Who cares about a blog when the guy is literally camping outside the kid's home and publicly denouncing him in meetings?

Posted by: simpleton1 | October 1, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

No matter what belief systems were involved, Shirvell was way out of line. I would say the same if he was black and the student was a white supremacist.

"Radical homosexual agenda"? That sounds too much like Dr. Evil concocting nefarious schemes to convert all straight people.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 1, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

You don't need a specific law or policy to fire this lunatic! Most work contracts have a clause saying the employee must behave in a normal way. This is not normal. This isn't even simple gay bashing. This is pathological behavior demanding some inpatient treatment before it escalates - as it will escalate.

Posted by: lswonder | October 1, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."
- Hermann Hesse

Posted by: hawaii1 | October 1, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Anderson Cooper covered just another frightening chapter in the history of mankind - more exposure of this type needs to be covered.

Chris Armstrong truly possesses the "The Six Pillars of Character" of which some have no concept when it comes to Citizenship!

They both have my respect and encouragement in moving forward.

Congress should make it illegal to use electronic means to "coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress." Just another thorn in the eyes of the world.

Posted by: Chris543 | October 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It's creepy how obsessed this Michigan official is with this U of Michigan student. But it is also creepy to see how much coverage Anderson Cooper is giving to this story night after night.

Posted by: GeneWells | October 1, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

A harbinger of things to come in Palin's wet dream of a evangelical theocracy for America.

This guy works in the Attorney General's office?

Looks like he has a crush on this guy.

Posted by: areyousaying | October 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: areyousaying | October 1, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't condone this guy's actions, because it is non productive, and indeed may be counter productive.

But when the first "hate crimes" legislation went into effect, it started the journey down the slippery slope. Note how many want this "hateful" speech to be prohibited. There seems to be no shortage of people who put themselves forward as experts on DEFINING what "hate speech" is. The concept of "hate" has taken on some ethereal legal status; it's not too hard to see the day when scanners will be able to detect "hateful" brain patterns. Who knows where those people will be sent?

You know what I hate? Most academics, particularly those who have annointed themselves as experts on "hate" and its definition.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | October 1, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

How can this be legal? I mean I know it's Michigan but still!

Hawaii1: thanks for the quote.

Posted by: hebe1 | October 1, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

There is plenty of evidence out there that obsessive people like Andrew Shirvell go on to commit brutal crimes against those they stalk. Andrew Shirvell is not getting the desired reaction to his rants, so he is now being forced to up the ante and do something even crazier. Especially discomforting is the Michigan AG not taking swift action to get this guy some help. Free speech? All for it. Hate speech? It has no place, especially if the person making it is paid by the tax money of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered. I hope the national media and Michigan police keep an eye on Andrew Shirvell's whereabouts at all times. And Chris Armstrong should have a 24/7 bodyguard. This stuff is serious!

Posted by: Woodie731 | October 1, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Report: Shirvell is taking a leave of absence.


Leave of absence? Cox is another rightwing coward apologist for theofascism with the character of a sociopathic scumscuking liar.

Shirvell has shown he is not merely an emotionally & mentally disturbed, pathologically obsessed developmentally arrested, latently repressed stalker (cowardly hater and liar), he actually is breaking multiple laws (and every known code of ethical / professional behavior) despite the feigned ignorance of his boss, the pathetic Mike Cox current AG of Michigan.

Shirvell does not have a constitutional right to harass, stalk and bully anyone. He is engaging in criminal behavior which his boss has willfully neglected to recognize or acknoledge, much less hold him accountable for or prosecute. Talk about abrogation of duty: both are derelict in duty and Shirvell is an out and out stalking criminal thug!

That his equally cowardly (also republican) boss would impotently defend and excuse him lying that no laws have been broken tells you everything you need to know about the character of both these ethics-challenged bootjack-wearing, scum-licking yellow-bellied scrotum-pits.

Apparently the attorney general (a clearly inferior lawyer, characterless mental midget) in his zeal to protect his rightwing henchman has forgotten that the first amendment is primarly concerned with free speech to criticize the GOVERNMENT, protect the press (and of course now protects the unregulated will of corporations to buy the government they want and their representatives, such as Shirvell & Cox) -- but it does not endow a right for any citizen (much less a representative of the state) to engage in Libel, slander, and private action such as to stalk, harass and bully citizens, especially children and young people who are not fully formed adults. (not that Shirvell could ever be accused of being an adult). The gay student is the one who is protected FROM the jackbooted thugs of the state, i.e. the evil Shirvell and his evil dimwitted boss.

Fire Shirvell, prosecute and sue to the full extent of both criminal and civil laws (federal & state) and based on abrogation of duty, recall the scumsucking coward & thug in the AG's office who has clearly abrogated his responsibility to the citizens of MI, Mike Cox.

Both Should be fired/recalled/dismissed immediately for abrogation of duty and conduct unbecoming a state employee.

Fire Shirvell, Recall Cox NOW!

Note: Since Mr. Shirvell does not have any objections to invasion of privacy to go along with his criminal behavior, I'm sure he would value being corresponded with by others who feel the same.


Posted by: ThinkCritically | October 1, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey there Shirvell.

Check your closet and look nder your bed because the boogeyman's going to get you.

Posted by: veerle1 | October 1, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

You guys, Curmudgeon is correct. The government CANNOT discriminate based on the content of private speech. To all of you screaming the loudest that he should be fired: What would you have said if Bush fired all government employees who spoke out against the war?

Now if his behavior -- as opposed to his speech -- is violating the law, that's another story. What he is doing may rise to the level of stalking in Michigan.

The government can fire an employee for breaking the law. It cannot fire an employee for having unpopular opinions.

And you wouldn't want it to.

Posted by: anon99 | October 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has issues of his own that he should work on. He's just plain nuts. He's also obsessed with the young man who's the object of his attention.

Attorney General Mike Cox doesn't seem a-okay either defending this lunatic. He seems like a bit of a screwball himself.

As public officials, don't they have to represent the interests of all people, gay and straight? Hatred for any group is not acceptable for any public official in my book.

Posted by: MNUSA | October 1, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

You guys, Curmudgeon is correct. The government CANNOT discriminate based on the content of private speech. To all of you screaming the loudest that he should be fired: What would you have said if Bush fired all government employees who spoke out against the war?

Now if his behavior -- as opposed to his speech -- is violating the law, that's another story. What he is doing may rise to the level of stalking in Michigan.

The government can fire an employee for breaking the law. It cannot fire an employee for having unpopular opinions.

And you wouldn't want it to.

Posted by: anon99 | October 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Only an idiot would equate the stalking of a college student by a state law enforcement officer with the Iraq War. Are you an idiot? What ever possessed you to make such an infantile analogy? Grow up and learn your subject.
This blog is not about war or Bush or you,it is about an elected official sitting outside a student's home at one o'clock in the morning to watch what the student is doing. It is about an elected official publishing and speaking out against a college student in the most heinous terms. It is about a homophobic nutcase endangering the life of a college student.
See that was easy, not you try it. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | October 1, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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