Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has reversed his position and suspended Assistant AG Andrew Shirvell (left) after a national media outcry about Shivrell’s cyber-harassment of openly gay University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong.
The suspension came a day after Cox told CNN he didn’t intend to fire Shirvell, citing civil service rules that protect government employees from being “fired willy-nilly” for exercising their rights of free speech. Cox said he hadn’t earlier read all of Shirvell’s blog, “Chris Armstrong Watch,” that dogs Armstrong, the 21-year-old, openly gay president of U-M’s student government and accuses him of “anti-Christian behavior,” “mocking God,” promoting homosexuality and trying “to recruit your sons and daughters” into the gay lifestyle. “I’m at fault here,” Cox said. “I’ve been saying for weeks that (Shirvell’s) been acting like a bully, that his behavior is immature, but it’s after-hours and protected by the First Amendment.” But Cox also took a shot at Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who posted a Twitter item Thursday saying she would have fired Shirvell. “I don’t know why she’s so freaking irresponsible. … she went to Harvard Law School,” Cox said. “The civil service rules are a huge shield for free speech and she knows that.”
The ACLU is backing Cox’s opinion on Shirvell’s First Amendment rights, saying they believe “the answer to hate speech is more speech.”