State Attorney General Launches Bizzare Internet War On Openly Gay College Student
This is just about the weirdest thing I've read in a while:
Here's a curious test case for any public servant pondering a sideline as an online political activist. An assistant state attorney general for Michigan has created a blog devoted to discrediting the University of Michigan's student body president, who is openly gay.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has called student Chris Armstrong a "pervert" and "Satan's representative" on his blog, and admits to protesting outside the 21-year-old's home. He scours Armstrong's Facebook page and Armstrong's friends' Facebook pages and posts defaced photos of Armstrong on his site.
"You might wonder how is this man still employed in the attorney general's office," CNN's Anderson Cooper observed in a Tuesday-night segment on Shirvell.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, Shirvell's boss, provided a written statement to CNN calling Shirvell's opinions "his alone," not those of the AG's office. "But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear," Cox's statement added. Cox declined to comment further.
State laws protect employees' rights to express political opinions in off-hours.
"This is not some national figure, this is a guy who's running a student council," Cooper said.
Shirvell argued that Armstrong is a "political figure" and that as a concerned alum of the university he has a right to express his displeasure with Armstrong's support for gender-neutral campus housing. Armstrong supports such housing for transgender students who haven't had sex-reassignment surgery, CNN says.
Cooper suggested that Shirvell seemed obsessed with Armstrong.
Shirvell replied: "Chris Armstrong is a radical homosexual activist who got elected, partly funded by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, to promote a very deeply radical agenda. ... His biggest issue is gender-neutral housing."
Denis Dison, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which helps gay political candidates mount campaigns, tells the Upshot that Armstrong was an intern at their offices two years ago and went through candidate training at that time, but has received no funds from them. They do not endorse student government politicians.
He continued: "I've protested outside of his house, yes. ... I'm a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights."
Armstrong -- who told CNN he has hired a lawyer but provided no details -- had not publicly addressed the attacks since they began nearly six months ago, but he told the student assembly Tuesday that he would continue to lead the student body.
"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," he said, according to the student paper.
Shirvell showed up at the assembly's first meeting to argue that Armstrong should resign his position. According to the student paper, he graduated in 2002 and once called members of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights, "sick freaks" in emails to a member of the group.
The university's alumni association says it has no comment on the matter.