ANN ARBOR (WXYZ) - It was an Action News interview with Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell that caught the attention of CNN and other national media. Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke one-on-one with Shirvell about why he's targeting an openly-gay college student. See Cooper's story here: http://bit.ly/cgKIBG
Action News Investigator's original story:
Andrew Shirvell has fought battles in courtrooms throughout the state, but it’s a fight he’s picked with an openly gay college student that has some wondering if this attorney is out of order.
In classroom’s across the state, Attorney General Mike Cox uses videos to teach students the dangers of internet predators and cyber bullies.
“We want you to be safe on the Internet, and in particular, we want to protect you from Internet predators,” said Cox in the video.
But is one of his top lieutenants engaging in cyber bullying, the very behavior Cox says is so dangerous. Andrew Shirvell is an assistant attorney general who helped run Cox’s last re-election campaign. But on his own time, he’s the author of a blog he started last spring targeting Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the University of Michigan’s student assembly.
“His agenda was…to promote the radical homosexual agenda at the University of Michigan, and to use his position to promote that cause,” said Shirvell.
Armstrong campaigned to stop tuition hikes, expand gender-neutral housing to transgendered students, and make drinking less dangerous by keeping cafeterias open later. Students went to the polls, voting Armstrong in overwhelmingly, and Andrew Shirvell went to the web.
“Did he think he was just going to get some free pass just because he’s gay or whatever,” said Shirvell.
“He’s an adult, just like he’s been quoted before, we’re all adults here. And so we’re treating him like an adult with adult-level criticism," he said.
With 27 postings to date, Shivell’s blog is filled with language you’ll never hear him use in a court room, calling Armstrong “nazi like,” a recruiter for “the cult that is homosexuality,” and a proponent of a “racist, anti-Christian agenda.”
“That came from his decision to join Order of Angell,” said Shirvell.
The group he’s talking about is a university honors society. Years ago, its use of Native American artifacts in its meetings drew criticism from minority students. It gave up the ritual years ago, and today is recognized by U of M as an official student group, with past members that include President Gerald Ford, Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.
“Do you believe they’re racist also,” asked Action News reporter Ross Jones.
“Umm, I don’t believe that they’re, I don’t believe… I haven’t investigated what their subsequent activities were,” responded Shirvell.
In other internet postings, Shirvell’s language has been even stronger: calling Armstrong “Satan’s representative on the Student Assembly,” even posting a photograph with a swastika attached to his face.
“How under any circumstance, regardless of whether or not you agree with somebody’s lifestyle, is something like that defensible,” asked Jones.
“Well, he is promoting a satanic lifestyle, and he is a fierce advocate for it,” said Shirvell.
“By being openly gay,” asked Jones.
“No,” said Shirvell. “By being somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of heterosexual students.”
In several posts, Shirvell accuses Armstrong of being sexually active with other male students, some of whom don’t identify themselves as gay. He’s also said Armstrong hosted “gay orgies” in his dorm room, which Armstrong denies. And, he says the student body president broke the law by engaging in underage binge-drinking when he attended a party he listed on his Facebook account.
“And you saw him drinking,” asked Jones.
“I did not see him, but I know what, I know what the Facebook event was all about. It’s on the website,” responded Shirvell.
“Do you know if he attended,” Jones asked.
“I know he responded that he was going to attend,” said Shirvell.
“Did I see him there? I didn’t see him there, I don’t live in Ann Arbor."
Shirvell conceded he had no proof Armstrong was ever drinking, and for good reason. Armstrong wasn’t even in town the night of the party.
“The first amendment guarantees you the right to say things, but not anything,” said Wayne State law professor Peter Henning.
“When lawyers publish things, they have to be very careful that it could get cited against them in a future case,” he said.
Cyber bullying expert and Michigan State University instructor Glenn Stutzky said Shirvell's blog meets the definition of cyber bullying. He says Shirvell’s blog is the type of harassment he and others are trying to outlaw.
“It’s really a thinly disguised means to harass, bully and intimidate under the guise of, ‘I’m just expressing my opinion,’ ” said Stutzky.
Meanwhile, as the attorney general’s office continues to use videos like this to protect students