September 28th, 2010
10:14 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Asst. AG Targets Gay Student

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360­°, you'll hear from Michigan's Assistant Attorney General who is raging an online war against an openly gay college student.

Andrew Shirvell is in charge of taking on serious criminals and upholding the law. But in his spare time, he's running a controversial blog called "Chris Armstrong Watch."

Chris Armstrong is the student body president at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He's also openly gay. Shirvell targets Armstrong in his blog saying he has a 'radical homosexual agenda." The first posting has a photo of Armstrong with the word "resign" over his face, along with a swastika and rainbow flag.

Shirvell graduated from University of Michigan in 2002, where he was active in the pro-life community.

Shirvell's boss, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, released this statement:

"Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General. But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Shirvell claims he’s exercising his First Amendment right of free speech. But critics say he’s gone too far and say his tactics amount to cyber-bullying.

Anderson talked with Shirvell just moments ago about his blog. Hear what he has to say for himself tonight on the program.

Also on our radar tonight, the home invasion case in Connecticut. Testimony has ended in the trial of Steven Hayes, who's accused of killing a mother and her two daughters in 2007. Closing arguments are slated for Friday. We'll talk about today's developments in court with Beth Karas, a correspondent for "In Session" on our sister network truTV. She was in court today. We'll also talk with CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Carissa

    This is the most insane story I've ever heard! I can't believe this guy has not been fired yet. He claims it's a political campaign, but this poor kid is just trying to get involved at school. It's not like he was elected to a public position that is continuously open to scrutiny! God help our country if this is what it has become...

    September 29, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  2. Todd

    So why was this guy so afraid that he never looked directly at the camera, or maybe it was shame?

    September 29, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  3. Brian

    AC, I think this story isn't worthy of your time. I think you're better than this.


    September 29, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  4. Richard Smith

    This is is actually an ATTORNEY???

    I find this utterly amazing!!!

    What an absolute dweeb and completely off his rocker

    September 29, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  5. guy in san antonio

    Anderson Cooper,
    I watched your interview with the creepy guy from Michigan tonight while I was at work, and I thought from what I was able to watch that it was really good. All speech isn't free in this country. However there are Christian families that protest military funerals and use scaldingly hot anti gay rhetoric at them, and they are legally protected. I don't have answers but I wish things were different. Best wishes from a total stranger in San Antonio.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  6. 37level

    What a shocking story...and after watching it, I wanted to see Shirvell's website for myself. After reading some of the posts, I think Shirvell is a very unbalanced and dangerous person...I hope this man doesn't own a gun. This is the type of guy that ends up going on a shooting spree because he is so filled with hate...and then states afterwards that God told him to kill gay students. And to think that this man is Mich. AGA...God help us all...when people like this are in power.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  7. Bill

    Anderson my wife and I are sitting here speechless. Mr.Shirvill appears to be obsessed with this young college student. We still can't believe what we just witness. This guy appears to be disturbed and should be relived of his duties immediately.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:22 am |
  8. Germaine Alger

    Paul Nardone is right... not only does Shirvell have a crush... I think he is a stalker.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
  9. Pete Lash

    I watched as Anderson interviewed Mr. Shirvell and my jaw kept dropping. Thank you and also Jeff Toobin for reporting and providing a legal interpretation of this man's comments. I will, as a Michigan resident, advocate the removal of Mr. Shirvell from his 'ADA' position, and admonish Mike Cox for his not so benign support of him, by firing him immediately. As a taxpayer I am appalled that this person is employed by the State to uphold the law, in a neutral atmosphere.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  10. Stephen

    Mr. Cox should not play politics when deciding to fire this idiot. Yes, a gay and lesbian group helped Mr. Armstrong get elected to the student body at Michigan, but to focus on Mr. Armstrong exclusively or gay people as a group is just wrong. Who are we to decide who another person finds attractive. Mr. Cox should not listen to the people that got him elected and listen to his conscious before he becomes as bad as that idiot.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  11. Kole Finley

    I've just finished reading all the posts on this thread and I must say how refreshing it is to see such overwhelming consensus on Mr. Shirvell's disturbing behavior.

    Even though I usually refrain from automatic judgement on a person, I would venture to guess that Mr. Shirvell is quite a deeply disturbed and distressed person. To act out so radically must be an external manifestation of internal termoil. Having said that, I'm so heartened to see people banning together to support a young man who didn't ask for this harassment and certainly does not deserve this abhorrent vituperation.

    Be strong Chris and take heart. It seems an entire nation now sees your plight and supports you.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  12. Patti Powers, MA

    You really are a professional. I can't believe how well you keep your composure. I on the other hand was yelling at the TV. Mr. Armstrong needs to sue the State of Michigan for allowing that hatefull bigot to be in office. They say that what you put out comes back 3 fold....and he deserves whatever he gets!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  13. Bill

    What a nonresponse put out by the AG, Cox.... What is not clear is what he intends to do about the AGA's inability to serve the people of Mich. in his current capacity. I hope both Cox and this nut are fired and severely prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  14. waltp

    at first i thought i was watching a skit from saturday night live with Anderson Cooper as a guest star then i realized that this assistant ag was for real. Why do wakos allways hide behind the 1st ammendment?

    September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  15. Kathy

    This is the first time I have ever commented on any blog, but felt so sickened by what I just watched- I could not believe it. They need to bring out the straight jacket for this supposed public servant Andrew Shirvell, and lock this guy up in the looney bin. He has clearly lost his mind- even listening to him talk gave me the willies. He seemed like he was very close to being like one of those nut jobs that blows up abortion clinics. How can someone like this even have a job, much less one in government? He needs to get FIRED immediately. I'm still in shock.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  16. Kyle from Austin, TX

    Anderson, thank you for covering this and bringing it into the public spotlight. Actions promoting hate in any way, shape, or form are unacceptable and should be stopped.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  17. Buddy Spell

    The Michigan State Bar Association needs to discipline this nut job. His actions and words undermine the public's confidence in the profession. Any Michigan attorney who saw this interview and fails to report this clown to the Ofiice of Disciplinary Counsel is shirking her or his ethical responsibilities.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  18. Hollis

    AC/360 is without a doubt the best and most revealing of all the news shows. Anderson Cooper's level of self constraint is simply mind boggling. Both of those flaming (pun intended) morons should be fired tomorrow. Every day I find new reasons to embrace my Agnosticism and be ashamed of my country. Keep up the great work you guys!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  19. James Holloway

    I am appalled at the actions of Mr. Shirvell. His attacks on Mr. Armstrong are reprehensible. He not only should be fired, he must be fired. If he is allowed to get away with such obviously illegal and irresponsible behavior, it will only encourage others to commit similar acts. It will also erode the confidence in the Michigan Attorney General's office to represent and defend all the citizens of Michigan. Mike Cox will abdicate his responsibility to the people of the State of Michigan if he does not fire Mr. Shirvell. I am also a Univ. of Michigan alumnus and am ashamed of the actions of my fellow alumnus. To Mr. Armstrong, I say, be encouraged, and GO BLUE! James Holloway LSA '76.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  20. Julie

    I am a first grade teacher and we teach our students about bullying and how to recognize it and what to do about it. Even my first graders would know that was is happening here is bullying. Talk about politics! Are any of the "real" politicians involved here making the right decisions? Wow.....

    September 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  21. Bill Hessell

    Three cheers to AC for taking on the assistant AG and persisting in asking questions which clearly reveal a person who is highly bigoted and has no right to be in the position he is holding. He is clearly in violation of federal anti-harassment laws, and should be immediately relieved of his position.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  22. Observer

    Anderson, that was the best face off I have ever seen. You tenacity on each point was beyond impressive. In my opintion, I predict Shirvell will not be long on the job... but unfortunately losing the job won't stop the apparent hatred.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  23. Georgette Tilka

    Seriously! He has a right to to voice his opinion but who is going to put people like this in their place. The people that have the power to draw a line on what is acceptable and what is not. Are not doing their job morally or correctly. What this guy is doing is ridiculous. Words of wisdom: STOP LOVING TO HATE AND START LOVING TO LOVE! Dude needs some therapy!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  24. Doreen (Edmonton CANADA)

    I hope Chris throws the book at this guy, No wonder our world is the way it is these days with guys like this walking around. Then to call himself a Christian( I believe is what he said). Love your show Keep up your good work.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  25. Donna

    I must say that I found this story disturbing and believe that Mr. Shirvell's days as an Asst. AG are numbered...the AG cannot overlook this "after hours" behavior as it puts into question his own judgment. Behavior should be above reproach at all times in their profession. As a matter of fact, if I was a defendant who lost a case tried by Shirvell, I would request to have my case reviewed.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  26. Kat From Houston

    I don't mean to at all sound offensive, but it is my guess that Shirvell has different motives for harrassing this guy than what he is leading us all to believe. I further to guess Mr. Shirvell has things he is hiding in his own closet that he is covering up. I'm just sayin'

    September 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  27. Rev Daryn Nelsen

    This man should lose his job. The cyber bullying issues, the harrassment, discrimination is blatant. I understand that Hatch Act states what the government employee can and cannot do while "at work" – However, at the level of AG... is there a separation of the work individual & the non-work individual? His position of authority is recognized no matter where he goes or what he does. Very much like my position as clergy. There is no separation between my behaviors at church and my behaviors away from church. People recognize the position of authority... they expect a different standard of behavior ALL the time from those who lead communities.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  28. katy

    Michigan's Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Shirvell is crazy and should be fired. For someone who is claiming to be such a godly man he sure isn't acting like it.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  29. Eugenio M. "Gene" Albano

    I was especially proud of AC in his interview with the radical asst. AG of Michigan. The asst. AG does not deserve to be serving the gov't and should be fired by the AG. As a lifelong Republican, I cannot believe that the Attorney General thinks he can maintain his own credibility by allowing this jerk to serve as his asst. Good job, Anderson. Keep up the excellent journalism.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  30. LHR

    right to free speech comes with a responsibility, to speak of things that are beneficial and within legal and moral bounds. we are to ask ourselves whether what we have to say is the truth and we stand to gain something significant. rants like that of Shirvell's reflects how poorly he understands his freedom – the basis of the position he holds, what the United States is about.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  31. John Smith

    The Asst AG should be fired IMMEDIATELY! And the AG's role as supervisor/employer for keeping him on staff this long warrants serious review. Great piece, and excellent commentary from Jeff Toobin!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  32. Alexine Law

    In your interview with this man, how many times did Andrew Shirvell say um, um, um? I can't believe that this man can represent the citizens of Michigan or is a citizen of a global world. What anger he possesses.

    Vancouver BC

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  33. Barb

    What is it with people who call themselves "good Christians" as a means to justify what they are doing. What is the difference between a good Christian, a good Jew, or a good Muslim? This guy is nuts and should be fired from his position. It's absurd to me that it has even gone this far.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  34. Phil

    Thank you for the piece on a gay student and a Michigan AG. I not only feel sorry for Michigans leadership but I feel for the lost IQ points to myself for having endured his comments.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  35. Kim

    This interview was truly amazing. I can not believe there are people in this world like Shirvell. I hope this man has worked his last day for the State of Michigan. He clearly is only targeting Chris because he is gay. He could not provide any sound justification for his position. Thanks for the great interview, this man's idiocy and intolerence bordered on humorous, that is sad.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  36. Salvatore

    Anderson Cooper hit the 'nerve' in his question: "why are you so obsessed with this young man" ...indeed!! methinks he protests way too much! As a Christian my prayers go out to Christ Armstrong. And shame on Andrew. Hopefully he will get the pyschological help he needs.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  37. LA

    Thank God that others were as offended as I was. This man needs to be relived of his professional duties immediately! Immaturity and lack of judgement should be grounds for dismissal in his position! All of us Christians should be appalled and squelch this type of hatred . . . Not what Jesus would do!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  38. Christina

    1. First of all, not even to address the fact that Shirvell is a public servant, his behavior in general goes far beyond freedom of speech, and should be considered stalking (video taping outside Armstrong's home), and cyber bullying.
    2. Shirvell provides no support for any of his accusations, and his misuse of Nazi insignia is disturbing and disrespectful.
    3. If I were a citizen of the state of Michigan I would not feel comfortable knowing this man was the Assistant AG, I know that their are political complications with him losing his job, but this man's ignorance has now made international news (I'm watching from China) and that is a complete disgrace the Attorney General's Office, the State of Michigan and the United States as a whole.
    4. Even if I did not agree with Armstrong's views and support of gender-neutral housing (which I do support), his behavior is inexcusable, and by definition he is a bigot, Anderson Cooper nailed that right on the head.
    5. My support goes out to Chris Armstrong, who as a college student should not have to be dealing with someone as bigoted, ignorant and intolerant as Shirvell.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  39. SFoster

    Thank you, Anderson. What a horrifying story. I live in Michigan–about 30 minutes from the state capital; I read the newspapers; I watch the local as well as the national news; I listen to public radio–why haven't we heard about this in Michigan? This is a great state but one with a lot of problems right now–no wonder! How pathetic.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  40. Cynthia

    I was just channel surfing when I heard a blurb for this story and tuned in. I was completly shocked, disgusted and honestly disturbed by the whole story! I think Mr. Shirvell is mentally unstable and that is what should be addressed. How could this Assistant Attorney General still have a job! Doesn't Michigan have enough problems without having to deal with a mentally imbalanced stalker for a public official!
    This man needs to be relieved of his duties immediately. If this isn't cyber-bullying what the hell is? I mean I am just sickened that this man can hide behind the First Amendment. Fire him immediately. Gosh someone needs to give Michigan a break!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  41. Veiwer

    This is unbeleivable!!!! Shirvelle is something else dont ever in your life say your a christian and you judge people christian or not dont ever act or say anything about some ones lifestyle and christan??? puh- leese your harassing a college student if i was him i would of interveiwed and gave shirvelle a peice of my mind!! Yall have a good night!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  42. Lee Brookins

    Mr. Cooper...is it fair to say that if the AG in mich. is wrong for saying he was standing behind his first amendment right.....when does a public official get "OFF THE CLOCK ?"and be a normal citizen,,,and have the right's as the rest of "AMERICANS?" this includes the KKK..OR OTHER EXTREMEIST...AS A CITIZEN HE LOST HE'S RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH...your speaker claimed there was some law that prevents he ...I don't know this law could he clarify???????????

    September 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  43. Tony in Seattle

    Michigan's Assistant Attorney General, Andrew Shirvell, and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox are eamples of their god's christian soldiers. Not my god. They are both blinded by their hatred of homosexuals. These are two people who I think are very similar to Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. VERY DANGEROUS. These christian soldiers are wacky. Not the kind of company I'd want to hang around with. I be afraid they would try to nail me to a cross. Shirvell appears very strange in his interview with Anderson. To me he seems to easily be on the edge of sanity and insanity. These two nuts are making Michigan state look bad. Chris Armstrong should have an around the clock body guard to protect him from these two state officials. I feel for Armstrong.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  44. Markthross

    A truly disturbing interview. Good work AC360. It leaves me wondering what someone has to do to be considered unsuitable for public office. If I was Michigan tax payer I would refuse to pay my taxes until Shirvell was sacked. The bigger question is why it is "okay" for radical christian zealots to pursue their agenda seemingly unchecked. I grew up in a christian household and this man seems as far from god as it is possible to be. What version of the bible is he following? Truly scary

    September 28, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  45. debi adams

    I work for major airline where you are fired for these types of actions and comments "rule 32"" this in fact is traning for us. I have three children of very different walks of life this is very scarey to me..one of my children graduated from a Michigan College. thank you for your time. Shirvel angers me a great deal. Debi Adams

    September 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  46. tracy hawes

    Not a very sophisticated thing to say on my part, but that Shirvell guy is such a homophobe, which is probably what his biggest problem is and which is probably why he's so obsessed with the gay student in the first place. I was so angry listening to him, he does not deserve to keep his job as Michigans' assistant attorney general, it would be inappropriate. Thanks for letting me vent Tracy Hawes

    September 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  47. Carol Kentucky

    Shirvill is the product of generations of hateful, fire and brimstone preaching...These extremists have hijacked the Christian religion.....I am Christian and these hate peddlers do not speak for me..Jesus preached love one another...
    no where in the new testament did he say terrorize,torture, insult, burn at the stake...yet all these things have been done in the name of Christianity....The interest of the radicals is gain control and power under the pretense of doing Gods will...They are the American Taliban and when I see one of them in public office is scares me...If they take over our government and set up thier theocracy two thirds of the US population would be killed for heresay,,,

    September 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  48. Viewer

    It's incredible that Shirvell still has a job. As your legal analyst said, it's well established that a public employee does not have unfettered First Amendment rights. There also probably is some code for state AGs saying that they must not by their conduct undermine the authority of their office.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Armstrong is contemplating an action alleging defamation, invasion of privacy, cyber stalking, etc.

    Deliberate cheap shot: I thought Michigan was a top law school. Shirvell sounded like an idiot.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  49. Pat brown

    Thank you Anderson for shining light on this story. Where do thrze crazies come from

    September 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  50. Molly

    How could Shirvell say that his opinion is limited to private time, after work hours ? Does he have a switch where he can turn his biases/bigotry/hate/anger On and Off ? I don't think so... the person you are after work is the same person you are at work – the only difference is you feel free to express yourself when you get home – at work you'd get fired.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
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