By now you’ve probably heard the news that Judge Richard Cebull, Chief U.S. District Judge for Montana, sent a “joke” email from his courthouse chambers, using his official court email account, that compares African Americans to dogs. Here’s the punchline:
A little boy said to his mother, “Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?”
His mother replied, “Don’t even go there, Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!”
The text of the email is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you see how the email appeared on Judge Cebull’s screen. Below you can see the email as it appeared on the web last September.
Judge Cebull, who was nominated by President Bush and has served since 2001, admits
he read the email, knew it was racist and intended to pass it along to his “old buddies.” He has apologized “to anybody who is offended by it,” which isn’t really much of an apology. He should be apologizing for the substance, not the perception, of his act.
Judge Cebull gave this explanation to John S. Adams of the Great Falls Tribune, who broke the story
“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.” […]
Cebull said he does not consider himself prejudiced against people of other races or ethnic backgrounds, and that his actions in his courtroom have demonstrated that.
It’s one thing to criticize President Obama’s policies or leadership or even his character. But to insult his mother and equate interracial sex with bestiality? That’s completely beyond the pale.
What is the psychology of a federal judge who, while sitting in his chambers checking his official email, reads an email like that and decides to pass it along? It begs the question of whether Judge Cebull can fairly hear cases involving discrimination, race, the President, and so on.
Here’s the full email: