“For nearly six months, Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has waged an internet campaign against” Chris Armstrong, who is the openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Shirvell maintains a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch where he regularly berates Armstrong and complains about what he calls the “homosexual lifestyle.” The blog even features mocked up graphics Shirvell has created of Armstrong, including one where the assistant attorney general has written “racist elitist liar” on a picture of Armstrong’s face. Additionally, the assistant AG has even demonstrated outside Shirvell’s home and allegedly stalked him on Facebook.
Last night, CNN’s Anderson Cooper invited Shirvell on his show to talk about his crusade against the student assembly president. Shirvell told Cooper that his campaign is “nothing personal against Chris” and likened his harassment to a political campaign. At one point, Cooper asked Shirvell if he considers himself a bigot. Shirvell responded, “Absolutely not. I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights. I have no problem that Chris is homosexual. I have a problem that he’s advancing a very radical agenda.” He later continued, “The real bigot here is Chris Armstrong, I don’t have any hate in my body at all”:
COOPER: Do you consider yourself a bigot?
SHIRVELL: Absolutely not. I’m a Christian citizen exercising my first amendment rights. I have no problem with the fact that Chris is homosexual, I have a problem that he’s advancing a very radical agenda.
COOPER: I bring up the bigot question because Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines bigot as a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her prejudices…labeling a student a Nazi, picketing his house, it seems to make you appear intolerant at the very least. It seems you hate this guy because he’s gay.
SHIRVELL: Well, Anderson, that’s your spin on it. The real bigot here is Chris Armstrong. I don’t have any hate in my body at all.
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“Mr. Shirvell’s personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” said a statement provided by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.” Cox is also considering legal action against Shirvell.