Hopefully by the time you are reading this, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell is out of a job. Shirvell recently took a paid leave of absence after his favorite hobby became the subject of a media frenzy. That hobby? Stalking and harassing a gay college student.
That student, 21-year-old Chris Armstrong, is the University of Michigan student-body president. Shirvell maintains a blog called “Chris Armstrong Watch” that tracks the student’s every move, obsessively following him and his friends in real life and on Facebook and Twitter. Shirvell’s blog includes a photo with a Nazi swastika-adorned rainbow flag superimposed over Armstrong’s face along with the word “resign.”
Shirvell also holds one-man “protests” against Armstrong. In early September, a friend of mine witnessed Shirvell standing outside of Armstrong’s house holding a sign with the rainbow flag swastika photo on it. The whole thing was so bizarre, she thought it might be part of some kind of fraternity hazing stunt. Not an actual adult man’s real life.
Shirvell claims that he’s just a concerned Christian UM alumnus, but it’s clear his main problem is the fact that Armstrong is gay.
On Sept. 4, Shirvell posted to his blog, “Parents of University of Michigan freshmen beware: the University’s first openly ‘gay’ student body president, Chris Armstrong, is actively recruiting your sons and daughters to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’” Shirvell later claimed that the aim of a party thrown at Armstrong’s house at the beginning of the school year “was to liquor-up underage freshmen and promote homosexual activity in an effort to recruit them to the homosexual lifestyle.”
In mid-September, Armstrong filed for a personal protection order against Shirvell. Because the dude is totally creepy. If you need any more proof, all you have to do is watch the totally self-awareness-lacking interview Shirvell did with Anderson Cooper, in which he claims that he’s involved in a political campaign and is not doing anything wrong. Because, you know, hanging out in front of a kid’s house and videotaping him at 1 a.m. is totally normal “free speech” stuff.
The Cooper interview video has gone viral and Shirvell comes across as a total sociopath. It’s kind of sad, actually, that Shirvell apparently has no one in his life to grab him by the shoulders and say, “Don’t go on TV or the whole country is going to see that you are insane.”
Since that interview, plenty of people — like the 15,000 fans of the Fire Andrew Shirvell Facebook page — have been calling for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to get rid of him. Instead, Cox did his own interview with Cooper, saying that Shirvell is just exercising his First Amendment rights.
It should be noted that Cox is no friend to LGBT Michiganders, so it’s no surprise that his office would employ folks who have an anti-gay agenda. It should also be noted that sexual orientation is not covered under Michigan’s civil-rights laws. Something tells me that Cox wouldn’t have been so hot to go on national TV on defense if the object of Shirvell’s scorn was, say, black or Latino or Jewish.
“I have done NOTHING immoral OR illegal,” wrote Shirvell on his blog in late September. “And, to all my vicious, anti-Christian detractors out there … I have a message for you all: this watch site is here to stay. Get use [sic] to it.”
And yet, as of Oct. 1, Shirvell’s blog was no longer public. Let’s hope his job follows.
D’Anne Witkowski is a Detroit-based freelance writer and poet.