Assistant AG banned from UM
MARRISSA MCCLAIN/AP COURTESY PHOTO
A paragraph from Andrew Shirvell’s blog http://chris-armstrong-watch.blogspot.com. Shirvell has never met Armstrong, nor Armstrong’s friend that he speaks about here, John Olten, a University of Michigan student.Before Sept. 28, few people outside of Michigan had heard of right-wing online bully and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell. Now, the name is known in households around the world, and they’re asking for him to be fired. Shirvell appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” on Sept. 28 to defend his blog, “Chris Armstrong Watch.” The blog detailed the actions of Armstrong, the University of Michigan’s first openly gay Michigan Student Assembly president. Shirvell included everything from Armstrong’s personal Facebook conversations with friends to a video Shirvell took outside of Amstrong’s house on his blog. He said, on Cooper’s show, that he stands by his statement that Armstrong is Satan’s representative, and called Armstrong a “radical homosexual activist.” Cooper showed concern that Shirvell, a government official, found his own actions toward an undergraduate student appropriate. He cited several entries he found alarming, including posts where Shirvell covered Armstrong’s face in a photo with a swastika and the words “liar” and “racist.” The general consensus that Cooper and several other journalists have come to is that it appears Shirvell feels so strongly about Armstrong not because of his actions, but because he’s gay. Shirvell denied this vehemently. “I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he is advancing a very radical agenda,” he said. The issue Shirvell seems to have the biggest problem with is Armstrong’s fight for gender-neutral housing. The plan would allow students to live with students of the opposite sex if they wished. Shirvell also believed Armstrong to be a racist due to his membership in The Order of Angell, a UM senior honor society with a past marred by racism. The group, which Shirvell compared to the Klu Klux Klan, has since denounced all past offensive acts, which included wearing Native American regalia during meetings. The group was renamed in 2007 to get away from its controversial past and apologizing publicly. All of this was done before Armstrong was a member of the group. Shirvell, who calls himself a “private Christian citizen and concerned University of Michigan alum,” stated that the First Amendment protected all of his blog posts. “I do not follow him around. I protest him with a sign. That’s exercising my First Amendment rights, Anderson, that’s not following anybody around,” said Shirvell on the show. University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman saw it differently. On Sept. 30, two days after Shirvell’s CNN appearance, she issued a public statement about Shirvell’s prohibition from appearing on campus. She went on to say how proud she was of UM’s response to the scandal. “As a community, we must not and will not accept displays of intolerance,” she said. “We are heartened, but not surprised, by the response of the campus community in supporting Chris.” On that same day, the blog was restricted from public viewing, allowing only those with a password to gain access. However, if searchers simply read the cached version of the site, they could see almost everything posted, save for a few select posts. Late last week, even the cached version had been removed. Only several cached blog posts remained visible, and it took more than a casual search to find them. Also on Sept. 30, Shirvell’s employer, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, addressed the issue on “AC 360°.” Despite several calls to Cox’s office asking for Shirvell’s resignation and the more than 15,000 member-strong “Fire Andrew Shirvell” Facebook group, Cox defended his employee. “Here in America, we have something called the First Amendment which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech,” said Cox. The ACLU has expressed that it agrees with Cox’s understanding of the situation. Cox went on to say that if Shirvell was found to be acting outside the law, he would reconsider his stance on Shirvell’s employment. He also said that Shirvell is a bully, but the idea that homosexuals might begin to have doubts about his own office “is quite a stretch.” Armstrong and Shirvell will appear in court together on Oct. 25 to address Armstrong’s request for a restraining order against Shirvell. On Oct. 1, Shirvell took a leave of absence from his position. Cox’s office stated that the leave was taken completely on Shirvell’s own volition. Shirvell’s last blog post included details about Ross Jones, a reporter from ABC 7 WXYZ Action News who wrote about “Chris Armstrong Watch.” Shirvell stated that it was actually Adam Jones, Ross’ older brother, who was the inspiration for Ross’ article. Adam, a former employee of Mike Cox, had been very open about his dislike for Cox. Shirvell said he sorted through five years’ worth of Adam’s Facebook statuses. He provided screen shots of several that showed Adam celebrating the bad press that his former employer was receiving. “Oh, and did I mention that Adam does not even live in Michigan anymore?!” wrote Shirvell. “In fact, he has resided in or around Washington, D.C. for the past couple of years. “Talk about obsession? Look in the mirror, Adam. Or, in this case, look at your own FB wall over the last several years. What a truly sad and pathetic person Adam is,” he added.