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Jury Awards HUGE Settlement to Gay U Mich Student

16 Aug

Remember Andrew Shirvell? He’s the former Michigan Ass’t Attorney General who stalked University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong because he was openly gay.

We covered the whole controversy here, here, here and again here. This was a purely brilliant story. This guy had videotaped Armstrong at his home in the middle of the night, had a blog all about Armstrong and would show up and stage one-person rallies against Armstrong because he was gay. And brilliance happened:

Andrew Shirvell’s the bald, older one. Chris Armstrong is on the far right.

Well, it turns out Shirvell was using government time and resources to fund his little hate Chris Armstrong blog and was fired after an outcry from the LGBT blogosphere.

Shirvell’s writing, attacks and harassment was ENDLESS. Armstrong demanded an apology from Shirvell and said he would drop a pending harassment suit against Shirvell if he would only apologize for what he’d done. Shirvell refused.

Armstrong proceeded with his lawsuit seeking $25,000 in damages. A jury today found in favor of Armstrong and ordered Shirvell to pay him…wait for it…$4.5 MILLION!!! This is what happens in the court system when you spread vicious lies about gay people. This is hatred and this is what it was worth to a jury in Michigan.


Should We Give a Megaphone to the Bigots?

7 Dec

Over the past few years, we’ve seen all the nuts falling from the trees. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a news program from CNN, MSNBC, Fox or anywhere else that doesn’t offer differing viewpoints on the topics of the day – no matter how bigoted those viewpoints might be.

But how far should the media go in giving a platform to bigots, racists, homophobes and the like? Julie Bolcer at The Advocate points out a brief interview with Tom Brokaw on a red carpet recently. Brokaw pointed out the fact that sometimes it’s outrageous anti-gay viewpoints that spark conversations nationwide. “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.” Brokaw said.

As a journalist, one would think that you should be fairly removed from the topic you are reporting on, but it would seem with the evolution of news programs from most of the major cable networks, that commentary on these issues has become standard.

Anderson Cooper joined the fray earlier this year when he interviewed former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell after Shirvell had harrassed and stalked openly-gay University of Michigan student body president, Chris Armstrong. Cooper was less-than-kind to Shirvell stopping just a few inches short of calling him a lunatic on national television.

And our beloved Rachel Maddow used her bully pulpit to eviscerate ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, when he tried to explain his methods of “curing” homosexuality. While never being rude to Mr. Cohen, it was clear that Maddow found all his techniques to be…let’s say “outside the box.”

But do these appearances help in the struggle for civil rights by pointing out the shameless bigotry and hatred being displayed by individuals like The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown or Maggie Gallagher? Or does it hurt us by giving a national platform to these otherwise fairly anonymous individuals?

There’s also the bigger question of freedom of speech – which is the usual line of defense for the networks when questioned as to why they allowed these people on their shows. This argument doesn’t hold a lot of water for me really though, as you can still speak out without being handed a national platform to do so.

I tend to believe the former, but I live in a major metropolitan area where most of the people I know share similar politics with me. With such a huge influx in LGBT stories in the media the past few years, is it necessary to offer a counterpoint, even when it’s as offbeat and bigoted as some of these examples?

Hey Hey Hey… Goodbye, Andrew Shirvell.

8 Nov

We did it.

Andrew Shirvell, the now former assistant District Attorney in Michigan who has waged a crazed cyber bullying campaign against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay University of Michigan student body president.  You may remember we covered this torrid tale last month.

Andrew Shirvell has finally lost his job for his crazed behavior.  From the Detroit Free Press:

The attorney for Andrew Shirvell, the assistant attorney general under fire for his attacks on a University of Michigan student, says his client has been fired.

“They said essentially that as a result of Andrew’s conduct, it’s become impossible for him to carry out his duties as an attorney general.”

And rightly so.  No public official should be engaging in this kind of harassment.  Maybe now Chris Armstrong can go about his business and concentrate on College, which is hard enough without wild eyed stalkers standing at the gates.