So it seems an assistant attorney general in my very own state has started a personal jihad against the student body president at the University of Michigan. The assistant AG, Andrew Shirvell, blogs as “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” believes Chris Armstrong is a dangerous radical, and has started a website — Chris Armstrong Watch — to serve as his public platform. There, he posts Perez Hilton-style Photoshopped pictures of Armstrong, screen grabs of Facebook postings between Armstrong and his friends, and other up-to-the-minute evidence of what he believes is wrongdoing, much of it IN CAPS or with the standard antique journo-speak (OUTRAGE ALERT, or BOMBSHELL). He has protested outside Armstrong’s house. Two nights ago, he went on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN to, essentially, rave that Armstrong is SO DANGEROUS, SO SHAMEFUL to the state’s elite university, that he must be STOPPED.
However, it was difficult to hear what Shirvell was saying, because my Over the Rainbow Home Gaydar Alert System wouldn’t stop wailing. I need to get that checked.
Yes, friends, that’s what this is all about: Chris Armstrong is the first “openly gay,” as they say, student-body president, and Shirvell simply can’t get over this. He is going to flush his career right down the toilet over, essentially, a student-council election at his alma mater.
Although who knows? Michigan’s outgoing attorney general, Mike Cox, went on Cooper’s show last night to defend his staffer (to be sure, one of hundreds) and his right to act like an ass, as well as to wash his hands of handing down any discipline whatsoever. His hands are tied, he said, by this little thing called the First Amendment. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Cox’s performance was sort of smirky. Cox is a smirky guy, something voters saw through last month when they crushed his hopes of being the next governor; he finished third in the primary. His attitude last night was that of a man already cleaning out his office and looking forward to a lucrative spell in the private sector. What could he do, really? he shrugged. As though if his assistant were gay, and were conducting a similar campaign against some young conservative, he wouldn’t have been fired for conduct-unbecoming months ago.
I know something about the First Amendment, and I know something about being the target of a crazy man with a website. And while what Shirvell is writing is certainly protected, I’d say going to Armstrong’s house to wave a sign around crosses a line for someone purporting to represent the people of this state. Unless Cox is gunning for a job with the Thomas More Law Center, it’s a no-brainer. Fire this douche, please.
And just in case you think harassment based on sexual orientation is no biggie, it is. Very sad story at that link. What a couple of monsters, but having presumably been fed a steady diet of riotous teen comedies where guys broadcast other guys’ bedroom activities via webcam, maybe they expected a different outcome.
TEDxDetroit was, contrary to all my fears, a pretty good show, mixing a certain amount of business porn (innovate or die! now playing at a PowerPoint near you!) with inspirational change stories with slam poetry with music with everything else. I’m still cogitating on what was said, and will likely blog on at least some of it in the future. However, I do wonder what it must be like to be a presenter at these things, looking out at your audience:
To be absolutely accurate, I took this just before the first presentation, but the behavior didn’t change much — at any given moment, a large portion of the audience was twittering, e-mailing or doing who-knows-what on their portable devices, and to be sure, this behavior was encouraged, and I did some of it myself. Still. Imagine looking out from the stage and seeing a room full of people, half of whom have their faces lit from below and are paying you only a portion of their attention. This would drive me insane. It’s why I decided, at the last minute, to leave my laptop home. Be here now, I thought. And mostly I was. But not entirely. This is a curse of our age.
And now I have to hit the shower for Thursday office hours. I leave you with an essay by David Byrne, musician and artist, who recently biked around our fair city while in town on a movie project. His observations of Detroit are more accurate and clear-headed than that of many professional journalists. However, I don’t think he needs the day job. Byrne was a surprise guest at a street fair in front of the Detroit newspapers a couple weeks ago, something the publishing company puts on to benefit the United Way. Probably heard the music from his hotel and biked over to see what’s what. Curiosity — it’s a good thing. Then last night, Alan e-mailed me from the office to say he was walking up to the third-floor newsroom when a man walking down stuck out his hand for a shake. It was Jesse Jackson. He must shake hands involuntarily.
Finally, RIP Tony Curtis. Everybody’s talking about “Some Like it Hot,” but for my money, his best work was as Sidney Falco in “Sweet Smell of Success.” YMMV, but that is one great movie.
Shower-bound. Have a great day.