Friday, March 30, 2012

Inflammmatory stupidity loses again.

Now that the Obamacare oral arguments are over, America can get back to asking questions rather than listening to nine middle-aged/old people ask questions.  One question on the minds of many, whatever happened to Andrew Shirvell?  We did a fair number of posts about him in the fall of 2010 but since then we have not done any. 

To quickly recap, Mr. Shirvell was an assistant attorney in the Michigan Attorney General's office when he was fired for writing a deeply weird blog devoted to expressing his contempt of one gay person: then-University of Michigan Student Assembly president Chris Armstrong (although Mr. Shirvell also generally did not like homosexuals).  The blog is/was called, naturally, "Chris Armstrong Watch."  Our first post on the topic linked to the blog but it is now invitation only so I cannot say whether Mr. Shirvell is still blogging about Mr. Armstrong.

In any event, in Novemebr 2010, Mr. Shirvell was fired for "conduct unbecoming a state employee."  Mr. Shirvell appealed the termination and, as the Detroit Free Press reports, the Michigan Civil Service Commission upheld the termination this week.  The report upholding the termination is here.  

One thing that is interesting about the report is that Mr. Shirvell got his start with the Michigan Attorney General's office because he worked on the first campaign of Mike Cox for the attorney general's office he won. (due to term limits Mr. Cox is no longer the Michigan Attorney General).  In fact, he was working there for four years prior to graduating from Ave Maria Law School.  Part of his job before graduating law school was to work on child support issues for Attorney General Cox.  Mr. Shirvell also babysat for Mr. Cox.  According to the report, "from a techincal standpoint, the grievant [i.e.,Mr. Shirvell] was an excellent employee." 

The report also makes clear that Mr. Armstrong was not the only person about whom Mr. Shirvell made his feelings about homosexuals known.  In February 2010, Mr. Shirvell used his work computer to email a former Michigan statement representative and current head of a Michigan taxpayer's advocacy group that the person had a, "perverted radical homosexual agenda."  Mr. Shirvell emailed another person named Justin that accused Justin of having "hooked up" with a Illinois Log Cabin Republican congressman and called Justin "sick" and a "freak."  That email was signed "Andrew Shirvell, Esq., 'Never Underestimate the Motivation of a True Believer."  One of the recipients of the emails (the report isn't clear who) complained about this to Mr. Shirvell's supervisor.

Another interesting part of the report is that Mr. Shirvell's supervisor initially forbade him from giving interviews about Chris Armstrong Watch once the media became aware of it.  However, Mr. Cox directed that Mr. Shirvell be allowed to do the interviews (Mr. Cox testified that he was unaware of the blog's contents until after CNN interviewed Mr. Cox about the blog.).  The report says that Mr. Shirvell ended up agreeing with Mr. Torvik's assement that Mr. Shirvell's interview with WXYZ TV did not go well.  The report also explicitly finds that Mr. Shirvell was not blogging during work hours.  He did however stalk Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Armstrong's friends on Facebook during work hours.

However, the report upheld the termination and explicitly rejected Mr. Shirvell's contention that the First Amemdment protected him from being terminated.  The report found that Mr. Shirvell by writing the blog and doing the interviews did not do enough to separate himself from his position as an assistant attorney general.  Specifically, once Mr. Shirvell began doing interviews he was no longer an anonymous blogger but an assistant attorney in theThe Michigan Attorney General's Office.  The report states, "The fact that the grievant deliberately made a media spectacle of himself and the department for which he worked without regard for the interests of his employer constitutes conduct unbecoming a state employee."  Mr. Shirvell's attorney, Phillip J. Thomas, says that Mr. Shirvell will appeal. 

According to the report,  Mr. Shirvell's supervisor suggested that the interviews and blog might subject Mr. Shirvell to a lawsuit.  Mr. Shirvell responded by saying that he would "rather live in the street than lose my ability to express these things" about Mr. Armstrong.  That strikes me as a misplaced priority. 

The only lesson I draw from this whole episode is do not post deranged rants on the Internet.  However, that is not much of a lesson given that I suspect most people all ready know that.  Mr. Torvik can you spot a different moral to story of Mr. Shirvell?

1 comment:

  1. I see a moral, and it has something to do with a closet. But I will keep it to myself.


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