Chris Armstrong, student body president of the University of Michigan is a current casualty of political slander and hate. Openly homosexual and unanimously elected, Armstrong is a figure of modern acceptance and tolerance. However, Andrew Shirvell, the Assistant Attorney General and right-hand man to current Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has instigated discussions against Armstrong’s sexuality in his blog entitled Chris Armstrong Watch.
In his blog, Shirvell accuses Armstrong of advocating a radical homosexual agenda. Shirvell, under the guise of the first amendment, adamantly continues his anti-gay target though much dispute is in motion. The Michigan Daily, disapproving completely of his sentiment, went so far as to urge Shirvell’s formal resignation from the Office of Attorney General. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has taken a silent stance regarding the scandal. Of his own accord, Shirvell has taken a leave of absence. Upon returning to his position, Shirvell will be subject to a disciplinary hearing with his employer.
Chris Armstrong commented on the situation formally in an article featured in The Michigan Daily.
“I will not back down. I will not flinch. I will not falter. I will not succumb to any unwarranted attacks. What I will do is I will carry on with the utmost pride and vindication,” Armstrong read aloud to the assembly from a written statement. “I, along with the rest of this assembly, were elected to this body to represent the University. And nothing said about us, or regarding our personal merits, will waive our commitment to serve the student body.”
Currently, both verbal and cyber attacks are being made. As Shirvell accuses Armstrong of having a radical agenda, it seems Shirvell himself is becoming radical about his anti-gay protests. He has been spotted at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting, calling Armstrong a racist along with demanding his resignation. And, the university, recognizing the potential danger in this situation, is stepping in. The University's Department of Public Safety issued a trespass warning — banning Shirvell from University grounds — after receiving complaints of Shirvell stalking and harassing Armstrong outside his house in Ann Arbor. Armstrong has also filed a personal protection order against Shirvell on Sept. 13. University president Mary Sue Coleman comments on this issue, “A high-profile situation involving one of our students is highlighting the importance of values that our institution holds dear…An individual has chosen to target the elected president of the U-M student body in a reprehensible manner.”
Reprehensible or not, the issue remains. An elected public official has resorted to utilizing the first amendment rights as a means to destroy another elected official after-hours. Yet another example of political mudslinging and opposing banter, a conflict has arisen between the forces of liberalism and conservatism.