We mentioned this briefly last night in an update appended to Non-Sequiturs, but it’s big enough news that it merits more coverage. Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell — whom we’ve covered extensively, for his blogging campaign against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay (and ridiculously handsome) student body president at the University of Michigan — has been fired by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.
(A commenter had this punny response to the news: “Gosh. Is that the last time Andrew Shirvell will run into trouble with Cox?”)
I previously wondered whether Shirvell deserved to be fired. As AG Cox noted in explaining why he didn’t fire Shirvell immediately, government lawyers have free speech rights too.
Most of you weren’t as concerned. In an Above the Law reader poll last month, over 80 percent of respondents said that Cox should fire Shirvell.
And so he has. According to the Michigan AG’s office, Shirvell went well beyond the bounds of permissible free speech….
The Detroit News outlines the reasons given for Shirvell’s firing: “Cox’s office said Monday an investigation showed that Shirvell made additions to the blog during work hours on state computers, and he made telephone calls from work to get Armstrong fired from a summer internship in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
In fairness to Shirvell, de minimis use of office computers or telephones for non-work-related purposes shouldn’t be a firing offense. If it were, many of us would be out of jobs. Shirvell could argue that Cox is merely using the “misuse of state resources” argument as a pretext to fire him for expressing unpopular views.
But Shirvell’s conduct went beyond this. According to Cox, Shirvell also (1) lied to state investigators and (2) engaged in “behavior that, while not perhaps sufficient to charge criminal stalking, was harassing, uninvited and showed a pattern that was in the everyday sense, stalking.”
In case you don’t recall, Shirvell followed Armstrong around the University of Michigan campus and Ann Arbor constantly — an activity that Shirvell characterized as “picketing” or “protesting” the student leader. On one occasion, Shirvell lingered outside a home that Armstrong was in — at 1:30 a.m. One can’t help wondering if Shirvell was hoping to see the student body president’s buff student body, engaged in the kind of activity that hunky college males engage in at 1:30 a.m. (perhaps one of those “orgies” that Shirvell accused Armstrong of orchestrating).
The Andrew Shirvell saga has been a fun story to cover, so we’re hoping that it’s not over — and it might not be. According to Philip Thomas, Shirvell’s lawyer, Shirvell might file a civil service appeal or a lawsuit for wrongful discharge.
Dragging this drama out, instead of just going quietly, might not show the best judgment. But good judgment doesn’t seem to be Shirvell’s strong suit.
It will be interesting to see what will happen to Shirvell next. “I feel terrible for Andrew,” said Phil Thomas, his attorney. “This is a situation where the liberal media turned on Andrew and everybody just sort of piled on him and now the guy has lost his job over this.”
Interesting. Could Shirvell cast himself as a free speech martyr? Could he leverage this controversy into a book deal, a job as a conservative commentator on radio or television, or a cushy post at a think tank or university for social conservatives?
Stay tuned. Getting fired from his government job could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Andrew Shirvell.
Asst. AG Shirvell fired for anti-gay crusade against U-M student president [Detroit News]
Cox fires official for attacks on gay University of Michigan student [Detroit Free Press]