Paul R. Lehman, U.S. district Judge in Montana, Richard Cebull’s decision proves faultyMarch 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Posted in American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, fairness, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: African Americans, biased emails, Confronting Myths, European Americans, human-rights, judical conduct, Montana, msnbc, politics, Prejudice, President Obama, public positions, religion, Richard Cebull, society, U. S. Federal judge
A sad fact of life is that some people in responsible public positions are hypocrites. Take, for example, Richard Cebull, the chief U.S. district judge in Montana. He sent out an email to six of his close friends that denigrated President Obama and his mother in the most uncomplimentary fashion. He says, however, he isn’t racist, just anti-Obama. What he knows but refuses to admit is that he is reprehensible, dishonest, and bigoted, to say the least.
When Cebull says that he is not a racist, he is absolutely correct; he is a bigot. Calling himself a racist lets him share his bigotry with others rather than allowing him to take direct ownership of his hatred. According to the msnbc.com report, he “apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” He should have been the first one offended by the email, but because of his bigotry, his dislike of Obama, he decided to share it with six friends. Why, if he realized the email was offensive would he want to share it with others? He states “Normally I don’t send or forwards a lot of these [evidently he has sent some before now], but even by my standards, it was a bit touching [make one wonder and question his standards]. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mind.” So, we know that his sending this email was a “heart-felt” gesture. So, his apology was in fact dishonest; he meant to send it because of the message.
Let us examine the message that he sent: “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!’” This statement is so reprehensive and disrespectful to the President and his mother that the judge should not have given it a moment’s consideration before deleting it and advising the sender of his concerns regarding the lack of respect for himself and the President.
Cebull, however, finds the message “touching” and decides to forward it to friends—those who we assume are like-minded regarding the President. We must question the judgment of any individual who occupies a position of leadership in the judicial community to associate himself with this type of message. How could a self-respecting member of the U.S. judiciary not realize his bad judgment? What does his decision say about his ability to judge? One wonders if Cebull knows the definition of the term reprehensible and how it might apply to his thoughts and actions. Apparently, he does not know.
Cebull admits that the email he forwarded was racist [bigoted], but maintains that he isn’t a racist [bigot], and that the email was sent “because it’s anti-Obama.” As a sitting judge, his public position should be apolitical, impartial, and his knowledge of the internet must be very limited if he thought his forwarding the email would remain private. Maybe the judge is not current on the definition of extreme dislike or hatred of another person. Maybe that is the reason he does not see himself as a bigot.
What is clear about the good judge is the fact that he is a bigot and does not realize it; that he is dishonest and does not realize it; that his judgment is faulty, defective, and destructive, but he does not realize it. He states: “I have never considered myself that way….All I can emphasize is I’ve treated people in my courtroom all these years fairly. I don’t think I’ve ever demonstrated racism. Nobody has ever even implied it.” Cebull contradicts himself when he says he has never demonstrated racism [bigotry]. What would one call forwarding the email he sends to his friends? He admitted himself that it was “racist” [biased].
If Cebull cannot discern the difference between ethnic prejudice and a friendly email then we must question his ability to sit on the judicial bench. Again, Cebull is quoted as saying about the email that “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.” Why would a judge want to send an anti-Obama email to anyone when such an action serves to underscore his character and integrity?
What is interesting in American today is that a person in a position of public trust has not the slightest idea of his ignorance and stupidity regarding professional protocol, public manners or decorum. Once Cebull makes public his anti-Obama sentiment, he loses the creditability of his office to be fair regarding anything that is associated with President Obama. He is not prohibited from having anti-Obama feelings, but he must keep those feelings private if he wants to maintain the appearance of judicial integrity. Now, since his public admission of having sent an ethnically biased email, he has the additional problem of separating himself from the charge of being a bigot. In view of his actions and subsequent comments, the trust of at least some segments of society is lost.
Public officials like judges must have the trust of the public in order to be effective in their office. Once that trust is gone, fairness also disappears regarding anything involving that judge’s decisions. For whatever reason, call it disrespect for President Obama, certain segments in society feel it is okay to show disrespect to the President without any repercussions for doing so. When these critics are called into account for their misdeeds, they usually offer an apology that is about as genuine as a unicorn’s horn. When Cebull makes the statement that “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, “meaning the email, he seems to suggest that he is not offended by it. He added that “and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” Evidently, he did not “obviously understand why people would be offended by it” or he would not have sent it. Except, maybe he thought he could send it and no one would notice or expose him.
A wise saying underscores the point of Cebull’s problem: “It is better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Truth to the word.