A bit of good news for the side of justice and decency today.
If you haven't been following this bizarre case, here's a very brief rundown. Andrew Shirvell is the former Michigan Assistant Attorney General. After Chris Armstrong, an openly gay University of Michigan student who ran for (and won) student government president on a platform of coed student housing and expanded dining hours, Shirvell inexplicably became obsessed with him. He started a blog called "Chris Armstrong Watch" in an attempt to get him to resign. Yes, we're talking about an adult in a very high position of power within the state government trying to take town a student government president. On the blog, Shirvell defamed Armstrong in grotesque ways, including calling him a "pervert," accusing him of enticing minors with alcohol, and claiming he was a "recruiter" for homosexuality. The story blew up after Shirvell tried to defend himself in this interview with Anderson Cooper:
Shirvell was eventually fired from his job as Assistant Attorney General for this disgusting display of assholery. Read Scott Wooledge's diary for more information on the background of this story.
Well, today, we're getting some great news. After being sued (and rightfully so) for defamation by Armstrong, a jury has ordered Shirvell to pay a grand total of $4.5 million to the victim. The jury sided with Armstrong on all counts. Armstrong, by the way, only asked for $25,000.
It's important to note that Armstrong offered to drop the lawsuit if Shirvell simply apologized. But this right-wing nut wasn't even capable of doing that. The price tag for his arrogance and viciousness? $4.5 million.
According to the Associated Press, Shirvell remains unapologetic and sees nothing wrong with his actions. He calls the judgment "grossly excessive" for "clearly protected speech...and activity." He whines:
This should have been thrown out. Juries give short shrift to First Amendment rights.No, asshole. There is no First Amendment right to defame people and launch campaigns of harassment against them. There is no right to bully.
Shirvell plans to appeal. We'll see where it goes from here. But this judgment a bit of good news for our side.