Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who hatefully and obsessively targeted a gay college student on his blog, is taking a leave of absence. But not before his boss defended him to Anderson Cooper.

Shirvell, you'll recall, is a far-right University of Michigan graduate unaccountably obsessed with Chris Armstrong, the first openly-gay student body president at the university, to the extent that he MS Painted rainbow swastikas on Armstrong's face and has been picketing him at events, despite not even living near Ann Arbor. The long-simmering affair blew up earlier this week when Anderson Cooper struggled to understand what his fucking problem was, and then later had his boss, Attorney General Mike Cox, on to defend his decision not to fire Shirvell.

As you can see from the clip above, Cox cites the First Amendment and some Supreme Court decisions — "He does satisfactory work and, off hours, he's free to engage under both our civil service rules, Michigan Supreme Court rulings and the United States Supreme Court" — while Cooper counters that Shirvell's hate speech prevents him from fairly fulfilling his duties to all Michigan citizens. (For the media insiders scoring at home, Cox also takes a shot at Jeffrey Toobin. Not the Toobs!)

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm saw it rather differently.

Michigan's Homophobic Assistant Attorney General Goes On "Leave Of Absence"S

In the meantime, Armstrong is justifiably seeking a restraining order against Shirvell, and at this writing, almost 10,000 people have joined a Facebook group calling for Shirvell's firing. That's not exactly what happened this morning, according to AnnArbor.com. A spokesman "would not comment on the length of the leave or any other details, saying only it was Shirvell's decision to temporarily step aside from his position as an assistant state attorney general."

An earlier report that Cox had suspended him was retracted by The Detroit Free Press. His blog, Chris Armstrong Watch, is now "open to invited readers only."

Armstrong's request for a protection order includes even more details of Shirvell's sick harassment of the student:

In the personal protection order application filed Sept. 13, Armstrong calls Shirvell "a threat to my own personal safety" and details several instances where Shirvell followed Armstrong's friends as they partied in various Ann Arbor locations, hoping to confront Armstrong.

Armstrong also writes that Shirvell called Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office twice over the summer after Armstrong took a job there to lodge complaints against Armstrong.

Armstrong said in court documents that Shirvell showed up at 1:30 a.m. at a house party Armstrong was holding on Sept. 4.

A hearing on that request has been set for October 4. In the meantime, university officials have already managed to officially ban Shirvell from campus.

Assistant AG Takes Leave Of Absence After National Attention Over Blog Against U-M Student Body President [AnnArbor.com]
University Of Michigan Student Body President Seeks Restraining Order Against Assistant State Attorney General [AnnArbor.com]
Shirvell Closes Access To Anti-Gay Blog [Detroit Free Press]
Earlier: Michigan's Gay-Bashing Assistant Attorney General Is An Unfathomable Idiot