Federal Judge Richard F. Cebull Apologizes for Racist 'Dog' Joke About Barack Obama
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull's recent comments suggest that being a judge and having good judgment are two completely different things.
An e-mail forwarded to other chief judges by this interpreter of the law, obtained by the Great Falls Tribune on Wednesday, contains a crude joke aimed at President Barack Obama -- in which interracial marriage is compared to bestiality.
Earlier this morning, Cebullwrote an apology letter to Obama, accepting full responsibility and awkwardly concluding with: "Honestly, I don't know what else to say."
The notorious e-mail, titled with the seemingly innocuous subject line "A MOM'S MEMORY," was allegedly sent because he is "anti-Obama," not racist. Check out the text of the e-mail after the jump and decide for yourself.
Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine:
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!
Now, the joke's tone kind of speaks for itself.
But, if you do care to deconstruct a bit, it clearly insinuates that young Barack's father could have been a dog, and that this somehow explains why he is black.
That the judge, appointed by George W. Bush in 2001, says that the joke is "a bit touching" and "hope it touches your heart like it did mine" is obviously cause for concern.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups in erupted into an uproar over the e-mail.
Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez of Texas, head of the Caucus, gawked at the comparison between interracial marriage and beastiality and called for Cebull's resignation; Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver of the Congressional Black Caucus said it was "beyond disrespectful and ignorant."
Congresswoman Judy Chu of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus said: "An apology alone is not acceptable."
Judge Cebull's response: I can "understand why people would be offended."
In all likelihood, a complaint will be filed against Cebull for the e-mail and Shane Vanatta, of the State Bar of Montana, told the enraged where to file one in a statement on Thursday.
The White House hasn't said anything about the apology, but Obama has been busy stumping for donations in New York City.
It's still unclear what will happen to the judge from Montana. But whoever files a complaint has more than enough evidence at his or her disposal.
Follow John Surico at @JSuricz
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.