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Homophobic Asst. Attorney General Fired After Daily Show Debacle

By L.K. Regan

Increasingly, life imitates comedy. Just after Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted their Rally to Restore Fear/Sanity, a Daily Show appearance by a homophobic politician has been closely followed by a real-world job loss. Looks like Michigan is going to be looking for a new assistant attorney general, because Andrew Shirvell has lost his job after harassing the president of the student assembly at the University of Michigan.

In April, Andrew Shirvell, assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, launched a blog targeting Chris Armstrong, the out, gay president of the University of Michigan's student assembly. The "Chris Armstrong Watch," as the blog was called, was devoted to monitoring Armstrong, and the progress of his "very deeply radical agenda at the University of Michigan." (The blog is no longer public online.) In addition to firing wildly incendiary slurs at Armstrong (for details, see here—the attacks ranged from extremely homophobic to calling Armstrong a Nazi), Shirvell began to follow his foe, posting Armstrong's whereabouts on Facebook, and even picketing his parents' house. The University of Michigan banned Shirvell from its campus; Armstrong applied for a restraining order, but dropped the petition when Shirvell appeared to leave him alone following being notified of it.

Shirvell also made two remarkable television appearances. The first was on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN, where Shirvell outlined his complaints about Armstrong (CNN won't allow embedding of the video—to watch it on YouTube, click here.)

In response, the Attorney General's office pointed out that Shirvell was entitled to freedom of speech without impact to his employment. But Shirvell's next appearance must have given them pause, as the assistant AG was foolish enough to tout his views on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

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This appearance was followed on Monday, a week after that appearance, by Shirvell's dismissal. Attorney General Mike Cox explained that it was not this horrendously embarrassing interview that had led to Shirvell's dismissal: "To be clear, I refuse to fire anyone for exercising their First Amendment rights, regardless of how popular or unpopular their positions might be," he said. "However, Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed.” The final reason for his dismissal included harassing behavior (showing up at Armstrong's house in the middle of the night), stalking, slandering Armstrong to his employer (Nancy Pelosi's office), and attacking Armstrong on the internet during office hours and while at work.

But let's be honest—after that Daily Show appearance, the guy was done for. When real news fails, fake news steps in.