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Cox criticizes employee for Armstrong blog

BY JILLIAN BERMAN
Managing News Editor
Published September 15, 2010

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox scolded one of his employees, Andrew Shirvell, for his outspoken criticism of Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong last night, according to an article published by The Detroit Free Press.

The Michigan Daily first published an article about Shirvell's derisive criticisms of Armstrong on Monday.

Shirvell, who’s rants on his “Chris Armstrong Watch” blog slam Armstrong for his “radical homosexual agenda,” has also been showing up at events on campus criticizing the MSA president. Shirvell spoke during the community concerns portion of last week’s MSA meeting, calling for Armstrong’s resignation and he repeatedly talked over Armstrong and accused him of being a racist at a protest urging tolerance in May.

“All state employees have a right to free speech outside working hours,” Cox said in a statement yesterday, according to the Free Press. “But Mr. Shirvell’s immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

A spokesman for Cox, John Sellek confirmed to the Free Press yesterday that Shirvell is a civil service employee in Cox’s office, but wouldn’t comment further on the matter. Cox officials also confirmed to The Michigan Daily last week that Shirvell works in Cox’s office.

Shirvell graduated from the University in 2002 and was active in the pro-life community while a student.

In an e-mail interview with The Daily last month, Shirvell said he decided to start speaking out against Armstrong because of Shirvell's “pro-life, pro-family” philosophies.

“Armstrong’s agenda is immoral, in my opinion,” Shirvell wrote in the e-mail interview.

One post on the blog includes a photo of Armstrong with a rainbow flag, a swasticka and the word “resign” drawn in. The post also criticizes Armstrong’s push for gender-neutral housing as a ploy to force heterosexual students of different genders to room together. In addition, Shirvell discusses exchanges on Facebook between Armstrong and his friends, Armstrong’s upbringing and refers to him as a “privileged pervert” on the blog.

At last week’s MSA meeting, Shirvell accused Armstrong of lying to students about his intention to join the senior society Order of Angell.

“Even the first gay MSA president is corrupted by his power,” Shirvell said at last week’s MSA meeting.

The society, once known as Michigauma, has been criticized by some for allegedly using Native American rituals and artifacts in its meetings in the past. In an effort to distance itself from its controversial past, the society changed its name in 2007 and began publishing a list of its members and making its records available to the public — though the society’s activities still remain largely secret.

In an interview last month, Armstrong declined to comment on Shirvell. He also declined to comment following Shirvell’s comments at last week’s MSA meeting.

"I have always been open and honest about who I am in my life, and I can only do the same in my role as MSA president," Armstrong wrote in an e-mail to the Daily last month.

— Daily News Editor Devon Thorsby and Daily Staff Reporter Elyana Twiggs contributed to this report.