September 28th, 2010
07:18 PM ET

Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student

Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.

For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”

In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.

“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.

In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.

“Did he think he was just going to get some kind of free pass just because he’s gay or whatever?,” Shirvell said earlier this month with Detroit TV station WXYZ. “I mean, we’re all adults here and so, you know, we’re treating him like an adult with adult level criticism.”

Shirvell also told the local news station that his online postings were justified not because Armstrong is openly gay but because Armstrong is “somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of, you know, heterosexual students.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Martina Stewart
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Hugh Sturdy

    I just saw the story on the news about Andrew Shirvell and his blog.
    Just when I think I have seen and heard it all someone like this crawls out, not from under a rock, but from an official office!!
    Now I know he has rights outside of his job but come on!! He is a man who is in the office of the AG of Michigan!
    Does anyone else find that a bit scary?? He is targeting a young man based not on facts but on his own misguided beliefs.
    This does not reflect well at all on the hiring practices of the AG's office in Michigan.
    After seeing the interview and reading more about Mr Shirvell it reminds me that as an openly gay man I can never take my rights for granted.
    I certainly hope that Chris Armstrong continues to fight for equality and that he realises there are supporters from all over the world that have his back.
    Hugh Sturdy

    September 29, 2010 at 1:42 am |
  2. Rebeccayarkoni

    Anderson you really hit Shirvell with the facts he just looked like a complete idiot.... unbelievable ignorance and homophobia this man is dangerous and all in the name of Christ...

    September 29, 2010 at 1:36 am |
  3. Casey

    I'm from Michigan, live near Ann Arbor, and had heard nothing about the cyber bullying by Asst. Attorney General Andrew Shirvell. Now finding out about it on CNN, I'm shocked Mike Cox would openly stand with Shirvell and publicly support this hate crime. If he didn't stand with him, he would have dismissed him for such bizarro behavior. These guys are supposed to be protecting the people, not instilling fear in them. It amazes me that Shirvell calls himself a Christian. The Lord would surely be ashamed and disappointed in him. I think Mike Cox should fire this psycho ultra right wing conservative. He doesn't deserve to serve as a public employee for the state of Michigan. He's a liar, a bigot, and a hate monger who is terrorizing this young man Chris Armstrong. Shirvell seems more like a scarey stalker to me.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  4. sheila

    Give me a break! People are going nuts! this guy that is in Cox's office is nuts and needs to go. the poor Armstrong guy who is or may be gay who cares. the issue is the de-facing of a person is unforgivable under and law. This is crazy and so is the person who works for Cox. He reminds my Pee-Wee guy who played with children in a movie house.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  5. Jay

    The liar in this situation is Mr. Shirvell. He can try to cloak his words or twist them however he wants, but none of it changes the fact that he is nothing more than a bigot. Yes, Mr. Shirvell has the right to post whatever he wants to post in his blog. The rest of us have the right to expose his bigotry for what it is.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  6. lee Oates

    Andrew Shirvell, the assistant attorney general, should immediately be fired for abusing his position to harrass the Gay student, charged with harrassment, and jailed. This is just the sort of action that encourages the right-wing factions and makes Amerians look like ignorant savages in the eyes of the world.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  7. Jeanette Hendrix

    Hello Anderson. I am appauled about this resent showing of attacks shrivell has placed on a 21 year old student. Our kids have enough problems in school today, than to be bothered by someone whom, I feel has a hidden agenda. I served 26 years in the federal Government. And I can say, we are held to a higher standard than the average citizens. On or off duty,there are lines we are not allowed to cross. I feel shrivell, has crossed the line, and should be disciplined. He has attacked the personal character of this young man, whom he found out is "Gay". Stalking private citizens is not part of his job discription. He does not deserve to hold that position any longer.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  8. deborah ahl

    I just finished watching your interview with the Asst. Atty Gen of Michigan and am appalled at his behavior. I too am a woman of God and believe what is written in the scripture about lifestyles that are not lived according to the word of God. But Jesus also said "he who is without sin, cast the first stone". This young man is obviously confused about who he is and what he is doing. We do not have the right to degrade, persecute, and nail people to the cross. God says to hate the sin, but love the sinner, which we all sinners.
    As for the State Attoney, he should be ashamed for allowing this conduct to continue, because this mans behavior is a "representative" of the state and it's leaders. Particularly his office. I pray that Shirvell will come to his senses and stop spreading hatred and hiding behind the word of "God" and his 1st amendment rights. God is peace, and love!

    September 29, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  9. Chantal

    This AG is an embarrassment to the Christian community. He dishonors the name. His opinion of this student with a political social agenda may be true, possibly, but the actions, including drawing nazi signs on the man's picture is opposite of what Christ taught. The target may be political, but the attacks are personal. He does not represent conservative and/or Evangelical thought. This man's actions are not love, nor of Christ.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  10. millie frost

    how can u of m or the state allow this kind of behavior to be conducted against a human i used to work at a state school and in my work requirements no employee was to conduct themself in a negative way at work or in public that reflected towards their employer could be released from the institute why is he still working also why isnt shrivill being sued

    September 29, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  11. Roberta Hanson

    I'm all for freedom of speech but to go to the extreme of creating a blog filled with intense hate on a innocent college student(just because he is gay) is just outrageous and very extreme! What's even more disturbing is Mr. Shirvell doesn't even recognize or acknowledge how inappropriate his behaviour is and very radical. He claims he is a Christian. As far as I'm aware Christians are suppose to be tolerant and love one another. Apparently, Mr. Shirvell is very confused about what being a Christian is. Shame on his boss who is 'looking the other way' and not firing Mr. Shirvell.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:24 am |
  12. jocquece Gipson

    Seeing that we have someone of this power going to court everyday on the behalf of the Michigan citizens is very unsatisfying and hard to believe. I could care less about someone's sexual endevours and who they date if I am of high political power. He needs to be fired immediatley.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  13. Jeff

    As a Michigan Alumnus I am embarassed by Mr. Shirvell's childish actions and shocked that the residents of Michigan allow this loser to represent them in the AG's Office.

    Shirvell needs to grow up and get a life. I believe he has a mental problem and this should concern Michigan citizens. But, this is what they get for electing Mike Cox as the State's AG.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  14. Nina

    Mich.Asst. AG has to be fired.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  15. Erick Weeks

    As a member of my university's student council, I am in utter and complete shock. The behavior of this state official is not only immature but inhumane. I hope that some further action will be taken to stop his blog and his immature notions. I also give Chris Armstrong full support to continue running a successful Student Government Association at his campus. The one thing we need not forget is that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  16. su yung

    Armstrong seem to be wrong. Is he getting paid for it??? What is all his meaning behind pointless interogations.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  17. Chulosmom

    It amazes me that in this day and age that people can still be so hateful. Does Mr. Shirvell even know Chris Armstrong or is he just doing this because Chris happens to be gay? I guess no one ever taught Mr. Shirvell about tolerance. How would he feel if he was the one being blogged about in such a negative way? What a boring world this would be if we were all the same.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  18. dx2718

    Wow, what a bigot. I hope that guy gets fired from the Attorney General's office. Constructive criticism and personal attacks are *very* different things. I hope Chris has thick skin. I want to send him a big hug!

    September 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  19. Gregory Herrera

    Mike Cox must step up and accept his position! A Nazi Swastika being SMEARED on a man's face by one of your employees - you are the Attorney General!!!

    How can you allow this, accept it and obviously condone it!

    You must step down! We live in America and it is 2010 !!!

    September 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  20. Rayal

    This guy is proof of hate in America. I don't care for gay people either, but I leave them alone and they don't bother me. However, this guy has gone way over the line for human decency. He is outright stalking this college kid and showing up at his home. Our justice system needs to get involved with an investigation since he is an official for the state of Michigan. This is purely a hate crime in my eyes and the gay people deserve better.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  21. Penny Buckland

    I really think this is rediculous. Michigan has a heck of a lot of problems. I think that this man should do his job and leave this college student alone. He should put his energies to more important issues. If any one else (besides a government official) who posted these blogs against another person the way that Mr.Shirvell is doing to Chris Armstrong would be facing charges.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  22. Mary Goulet

    This Michigan Asst AG, should not be allowed to hold and positon that is funded by tax money. He is an extreme bigot and a dangerous bully.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  23. RDaY

    Oh my goodness...this dude is out of control. I simply don't understand why the state allows him to still have a job. He represents the State so is that what the State stands for???? Wow lowered standards. Btw does the asst. ag want Chris to be his man??

    September 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  24. upset college student

    he is not behaving as an adult. that is not adult critique. if THAT is what it means to be an adult, than frankly, i'd prefer to stay a teenager. this is disgusting and there should be some form of legal action against these false accusations he's making based solely on someone's sexual orientation.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  25. Tory Ross

    Why is this Shirvell bigot still working in the AG's office? Surely his homophobia and his inappropriate conduct bring into question his ability to perform such a sensitive role on behalf of the State of Michigan. Indeed, his actions reflect adversely on his competence to practice law, which is something that the Bar Association should be investigating.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  26. Nathan

    If Shirvell has children, I bet they're BULLIES at school too. That's all this is. Andrew Shirvell is an immature homophobic.. Assist Attorney General??

    WOW!! I hope he doesn't think be cause of his position he's safe from his accusations and libel.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  27. Renee

    If Larry Flint could win his case, complete with lies and slander against Jerry Fawell, and his mother ( in the Supreme Court!), then how could it be that Shirvell is not within his rights to express what he wants to legally, whether or not it is pc (politically correct)? Public figures have the right to express their thoughts and opinions like any citizen but they risk not being invited back. So why is this story so big?. Is the media more bias then they claim? The gay pride parades are offensive to MANY( do you see how they dress and behave?) but it is still legal wether you or I like it or not. I don't like the use of Nazi symbols ...but it is legal, so why can the can the liberals dish it out, but not take it? Could it be BIAS...again?

    September 29, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  28. anne

    anderson, i love you but i agree with the mich asst ag the gay community has been "brain washing" the world that it is ok to be homosexual the bible does not say it is ok the young college student is lost
    i don't agree totally on the way this asst
    is going about his message that he wants to get out, but sometimes now,in this day and age, you have to make a hugh impact to get people's attention.
    God may be speaking from a grandma in florida

    September 29, 2010 at 12:43 am |
  29. Simon S

    Uh oh. Someone needs to get a restraining order against (stalker) blogger Andrew Shirvelli. Seriously it is alarming that so called "distanced" Mike Cox hasn't forced his Assistant AG to resign. Shirvelli's actions are just embarrassing and are far beyond the border of "concerned Michigan Alum" ... they're hitting delusional psycho stalker level.
    Doesn't the AG Office in Michigan, with crime levels among the highest in the nation, have anything more important to do than to nurse a pissed off grudge against a popularly elected college student.
    Get help Mr. Shirvelli, or get out!

    September 29, 2010 at 12:37 am |
  30. Bob Dobbs

    So, is anyone doing anything to remove this guy from office? I'm pretty sure if he was ranting about some black person, making similar clearly biased and phobic comments that he'd be hauled out of town on a rail faster than you'd think possible.

    When you are a public figure, you have a responsibility to represent the public, both during working hours, and in your down time. If this is what folks in Michigan are like...
    If they're not, then they need to work to get him out of a publicly funded job.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  31. SteveB

    Who is this fool calling a bigot? Please remove him from office! He is clearly and by his own admission, harrassing another person just because they don't agree with him. I would say it has risen to the level of cyberstalking and possible civil rights violations. Not to mention the fact that is destroying the credibility of his office.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  32. Kim

    Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act vs First Amendment ? Chapter 41 of Title 18 of the US Code is being reviewed for amendment with Congress. Get a restraining order against Shirvell and has that happened already ? Political ethics of attacking communications offensive under the First Amendment and see the Dean of MI.and Cox with both gentlemen present to discuss their differences as adults and ending the blog site offensive politically and personally driven attacks.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:17 am |
  33. edwin

    Pretty creepy. I don't care if Shirvell dislikes the student president, he is clearly obsessed. And that can lead to stalking and assault or worse.

    Basically, I think this is seriously creepy, and not appropriate for someone in a high-profile public office. Shirvell can do what he wants in his personal life, but only to a point...

    September 29, 2010 at 12:17 am |
  34. Judy Peter

    Mr. Armstrong must have exceptional leadership ability or the very independent student body at U of M would not have elected him. His personal life is no one's business but his own. If he can do the job he was elected to do, more power to him. The University of Michigan has always been known for it's ability to respect students of all beliefs and backgroundsAs As an almost 70 year old female graduate of the U of M, I hope that never changes.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  35. nathan

    i have a feeling he will lose his job over this.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  36. roy d powers

    as a 78 year old gay man i am shocked at the actions of the asst antouney general . why he still has a job is way beyound me

    September 29, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  37. Gilda

    Stalking and libel.

    The kid's got some good evidence, if he's wanting to pursue this situation.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  38. George

    Andrew Shirvell needs to be fired. If Mike Cox doesn't fire him, Mike Cox should probably be fired as well.

    Michigan should be ashamed that they graduated someone like Shirvell. The attorney general's office should be ashamed that hired someone like Shirvell. The people of Michigan should be concerned that they have an idiot like Shirvell defending and protecting them.

    Shirvell claims to be a Christian? Please? Would Jesus go around bullying people and drawing nazi swastikas on their pictures? I don't remember that part in Sunday school.

    I love how jerks like Shirvell hide behind religion and freedom of speech.

    Shirvell seems to be the only one promoting hate – he needs to be removed from his public position.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  39. J. Klapper

    Why is this guy still with the AG's office? He is obviously not able to judge merits of a case.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  40. Marne

    I'm from Michigan and can not believe that AG Cox is letting Mr.Shirvell continue with such a negative attack on Mr. Armstrong. Both men need to step down.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  41. Janell

    wow...just wow...this is coming from someone who works at the Attorney General's office? No matter how you feel about homosexuality, no one should be allowed to criticize someone to the extent that he is let alone someone in his position. The first amendment gives us the right to free speech so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Mr. Shervill's comments however, go beyond free speech and cross into the territory of slander. I think Mr. Armstrong is absolutely justified in pursuing legal action. Mr. Shervill says that Mr. Armstrong was trying to recruit students to join the homosexual lifestyle? News flash Mr. Shervill, that's not something you can be talked into. I believe there is a right and a wrong way to voice your opinions and it has clearly been done wrong here. It's shameful how some people choose to speak, or rather type in this situation, before they think.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  42. PH

    A very disturbed guy. Goes to show how out of touch he is with reality! I don't think Mr. Shirvell is firing on all cylinders, despite his educational accomplishments.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  43. Scott

    His blog not only targets Chris Armstrong, but the other students that support him: heterosexual or homosexual. I personally know people that have been the target of inflammatory remarks by Mr. Shirvell. He is a disgrace to the Michigan Office of the Attorney General.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  44. Dan

    Methinks the AAG doth protest too much.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  45. Bill ( Pittsburgh )

    Anderson my wife and I are sitting here speechless. Andrew Shirvell appears to be obsessed with this young college student. After listening to Mr. Shirvell, I think if I was Chris Armstrong I would be very concern about this gentlemen. Mr. Shirvell should be removed from his position immediately.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  46. Lisa

    As a Michigan alum and former member of its student government, I am appalled and disgusted by this bigoted freak Shirvell. Supreme Court rulings are clear: public servants DO NOT have the same free speech rights as other civilians who do not receive a government salary and do not occupy a significant official public role. MI AG Mike Cox is hiding behind "1st Amendment" rights that do not apply in this case. Michigan voters should fire both Shirvell and Cox.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  47. Jeremy Gordon-Lennox

    This is ridiculous, shouldn't this public official be doing his job, instead of witch-hunting. Why isn't he more concerned about prosecuting major harmful criminals, but rather with a harmless kid just because he's gay? That's homophobic!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  48. Jessica

    The student better be careful. This nut is like Dan White in San Francisco that killed Harvey Milk and Mayor Muscone. That the state AG doesn't see that this guy is not fair or impartial and distorts facts and lies blatantly about the student is troubling.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  49. MA

    Wow – this gay student sounds just like a frat boy. One wonders why Shirvell doesn't call out the behavior of the frat boys on campus. Oh wait – BECAUSE HE IS A BIGOT.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  50. Donna Pollard

    It was frightening to watch Andrew Shirvel discuss his beliefs and actions regarding Chris Armstrong, president of U. of Michigan student govt. Your use of the Michigan definition of harassment and cyberbullying in this discussion was brilliant and showed him for what he was-a foolish, immature homophobic who is using technology in the same manner an 8th grader might do to bully another human being. It would be a good thing for the University to provide protection for Armstrong, as Shirvel appears to be so focused on this issue he is mentally unstable. Why would the Attorney General keep this man employed?
    Thank you Anderson.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
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