Clearly, the claim that one source of the insane Republican hatred of Barack Obama is simple racism has no basis in reality. After all, it’s not as if Federal judges appointed by George W. Bush were sending around emails suggesting that Obama’s mother had sex with animals, or anything

Clearly, the claim that one source of the insane Republican hatred of Barack Obama is simple racism has no basis in reality. After all, it’s not as if Federal judges appointed by George W. Bush were sending around emails suggesting that Obama’s mother had sex with animals, or anything.

Any chance that the GOP Senators, Representatives, and pundits who made such a fuss about the stupid Move-On “General Betray-US” ad – not, after all, offered by any public official, or any entity controlled by the Democratic Party – will start filing resolutions denouncing Chief Judge Cebull? (Or,for that matter, denounce Rush Limbaugh for calling a female law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for daring to testify before Congress?)

If there are no more silly questions, class is dismissed.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

55 thoughts on “Racist?”

  1. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is.”

    Have we really defined racism out of existence? How can forwarding an email that one admits is racist not be at least partially an act of racism? Judge Cebull claims he was expressing his disapproval of President Obama, yet there was nothing that was unrelated to the racist conflation of Africans and animals. What other reason could he possibly have to send it to several old buddies other than being amused by humor that he himself describes as racist?

    Now, being racist doesn’t mean he’s a terrible person. Or that he necessarily let’s it influence his jurisprudence. But I’d be a lot more confident if he admitted that old frames of mind die hard and he still struggles with the racism that he grew up with. But if he can rationalize such a blatant action away, what’s to say that he also sometimes rationalize racial biases (conscious or unconscious) away during cases?


    1. I’d argue that forwarding a “joke” about the President’s dead mom, who by all accounts was a tremendously accomplished and admirable figure, a joke that suggests she conceived her son in a hazily remembered drunken encounter involving multiple partners and bestiality might not “mean he’s a terrible person” but it certainly goes a long way to suggest he is. Damn sure I’d never want to rely on his sagacity.

      Incidentally, apparently the Montana State Bar has the following in their “Standards of Professional Courtesy and Ethics Between the Judiciary and Attorneys”:

      Courts not only implement but symbolize the administration of justice and their effectiveness depends on public trust and belief. The judiciary must therefore refrain from conduct or unjust or unnecessary criticism that will bring disrespect to the judiciary

      There are criticisms aplenty to be made of how the bar association conducts itself and whether it effectively polices the behavior of its members – but if this incident doesn’t qualify for at least an official reprimand as “conduct .. that will bring disrespect to the judiciary”, I don’t know what (short of criminal behavior) could so qualify.

      1. I’m a lawyer. I can’t agree more strongly with Warren Terra’s main point. Sitting judges should avoid even ordinary political activities to the extent they can. There is nothing wrong with a judge’s political philosophy affecting their work, within the constraints of statutory language and precedent. But beyond this, most of their First Amendment rights ended when they took the oath. There is a lot of case law on this for lawyers in the context of disciplinary proceedings, although lawyers surrender fewer of their First Amendment rights than judges.

      2. Well, I was just trying to go the extra mile in giving him the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s possible to find offensive jokes funny without being a bad person. In the right context, I’ve laughed at holocaust jokes. And there are many people the judge’s age who don’t really get how email works.

        And I think it’s important to fight back against the idea that only terrible people can be racist. Racial bias runs so deep in our culture that no one is completely free of it. “We’re all a little bit racist” to quote Avenue Q.

        That said, yes the joke was in extremely poor taste, and a federal judge should know better. It sounds like he’s let his political leanings affect his judgement to a worrying degree. So he very well may be both racist and a terrible person, but the first doesn’t necessarily imply the second. And if he acknowledged his racism, I’d be much more likely to think that he is, in fact, not a terrible person.


        1. This is why I’ve always found knee-jerk anti-political correctness troubling. Sure, there times when we can laugh at something that is off-color, tasteless, or in someway ugly. But we must at the same time *always* be mindful of the fact that racism and bigotry are in part defined by unconscious assumptions – unknowns we’ll simply never be able to know. Often, it seems aversion to political correctness is an implicit (or even explicit) rejection of this reality of cognitive bias. And denying the possibility, or dangers, of cognitive bias is naive and self-indulgent.

          1. Here I feel I must point out that by any metric the joke just ain’t funny. A joke must be smart to be funny and this one is just dumb.
            Non vulgar people can laugh at vulgar jokes. Only stupid people find stupid jokes funny. Of course this guy is a legacy of Bush so no surprise.

          2. I agree with Anomalous. The most telling thing is that the joke isn’t even funny.

          3. Right. I hadn’t bothered to read the joke.

            So, it’s a bit confusing. “You’re lucky you don’t bark”? Is that supposed to mean that being a Democrat made him black, which is on some continuum of sub-humanity? It just seems really weird on different levels. Is it the kind of thing that only makes sense to racists?

  2. know any other jokes?

    Honourable F. Cebull, Chief Judge : “The mission of the United States District Court for the District of Montana is to support, defend and preserve the Constitution of the United States by providing an impartial forum for the just resolution of disputes. We act so as to protect individual rights and freedoms, preserve judicial independence and promote public trust in the Judiciary of the United States of America”…and to give a racist imbecile like me, a chance to bring out the very worst of humanity.

  3. Ah, the old “I’m not a racist, but I play one on the internet” excuse. Poor dumb racist (oh, yes he is!) judge uses email without the slightest understanding how the headers work, and gets taken by surprise when his name is still attached to forwarded copies. Funny how ignorance and prejudice (and fear) go hand in hand. I would LOVE to see Obama invite Judge Cebull to the White House for a beer and a few laughs, and ask him in front of the cameras if he has the stones to repeat that joke to his face. Of course, Limbaugh doesn’t even bother to make excuses any more. He’s making too much money pandering to his like-minded audience to care. Dittos, Rush.

    It’s funny how authoritarians go completely off the rails whenever they are the slightest bit removed from the power to control everybody’s behavior but their own. Anyone remember how hysterical they got during Clinton’s run? Four more years of Obama is going to drive these people further insane, and if they lose the House, all-out civil war isn’t too far-fetched to imagine. In a sane country, these people would be out of power for a good, long time while they figured out how to relate to sane people. But alas, this is the USA.

  4. Limbaugh seems to be the one show that never jumps the shark. I predict that he will pay no price for it and that the Republicans who must snivel and grovel when they offend him will continue to defend him.

    However, I had to wonder why a law student, rather than an OB-GYN physician, was called upon to testify before Congress. Such a witness would have been able to give an authoritative discussion of the numerous indications for oral contraceptives in addition to birth control. An OB-GYN could have provided many precise details about why the employer should have no say whatsoever in the prescribing practices of the medical profession in the care of women—in how doctors are allowed to manage endometriosis, for example, for which oral contraceptives are commonly administered.

    Did the committee’s choice make sense to anyone? A golden opportunity was lost, it seems.

    1. The law student was called in an attempt to put a face on the problem. An Ob-Gyn can discuss the clinical aspects of the issue, but won’t necessarily put a face on the problem. The law student was called to make it personal rather than abstract.

      As far as Rushbo goes, he jumped the shark so long ago (in another century, like maybe the 17th) that hardly anyone with four functioning neurons remembers. He’ll pay no price because there is no price to be paid.

    2. Dennis’ explanation makes sense for the appearance of the law student. But my understanding of “jump the shark” is that it is the point at which a series begins its decline in ratings before being canceled in the end, and nothing Rush says ever has met that definition of the expression.

      ABC did report on his doubling-down today, when he told the Feminazis who want men to pay for their having sex to give something in return by posting videos of their sexual relations online. This has prompted House Democrats to send a letter to the Speaker asking him to condemn the remarks. And here is a golden opportunity for them in the fall, if they will take it: use the Limbaugh clip in their campaign ads, together with a voiceover that says, “This is the man that no Republican dares criticize, because he is the true leader of their party.” The DNC need not get involved; maybe some super PAC can run such ads in the fall and run them repeatedly.

      But they never seem to seize the opportunities that these thugs lay before them. I have never seen an ad that used a Limbaugh clip against the GOP, even though it is true that Limbaugh is never criticized by any leading Republican. Maybe they would not have lost as many House seats in 2010 if they had run some ads in districts that the Tea Party narrowly carried.

      How can we help those who will not act to help themselves?

      1. The urban dictionary isn’t an authority quite on the order of Webster or the OED, but somehow I doubt I could find the definition of rusty ________ in either of those worthies. The UD definitions of jump the shark seem to split evenly between requiring a drop in ratings and simply noting that jumping the shark reflects the point where substance is forced to give way to gimmickry; or the point where the quality of the program begins its (inevitable) decline.

        I’ve always thought of the term in the second sense.

        Is it possible that copyright issues prevent the use of Rushbo’s peculiar poisons in advertising against Republics?

  5. Rush Bimbo’s shtick is selling his program to affiliate radio stations, who use Rush’s content to sell listeners’ ears to advertisers. Talk radio, as the late Paddy Cheyefsky said of network television, is democracy with a vengeance. Rush has become wealthy pandering to right wingers’ prejudices.

    Give Rush an enema, and then bury his remains in a cigar box. An expensive cigar box.

  6. The comments to the article on the law student that’s the target of Limbaugh’s defamation seem to run strongly against the student, to my surprise. She should have to pay for her own health care – or at least her own contraceptives, they say, in unflattering terms about someone who is (I presume) not married but who dares to have sex anyway, or at least contemplate it. Mabye the ‘human face’ should have been that of a married woman struggling to manage with three or four kids already. No doubt Limbaugh could find it in himself to be nasty to her too, but at least the horror of premarital sex would have been absent.

    1. I must protest. Although I am married now, I was once unmarried and pardon me for saying this in all caps MORE THAN 95% OF PEOPLE ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE PRIOR TO MARRIAGE AND SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO AVOID PREGNANCY EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS MARRIED PEOPLE.

      I had sex before I was married and most likely you did too (or currently do). I am so fed up with this moral charade that somehow we pay more than lip service to ancient Jude-Christian sexual mores that I feel like asking everyone who ventures an opinion like yours is asked directly whether they had sex before marriage and whether they used “protection.”

      1. ’nuff said, and well said, Barbara.

        I’ve a few friends among the clergy of several Christian faith traditions. Even those whose church’s official position is the Friese/Nancy Reagan (the only birth control any woman needs is an aspirin) acknowledged the fact that people do what people do. One Catholic priest told me that in premarital counseling he wants to hear the intendeds discussing either money matters or their sexual relationship. His preference is for them to discuss both, but if they can’t do either, he refuses to marry them.

        Or, as my mother-in-law put it, “You wouldn’t buy a car without a test-drive, would you?”

      2. Look, I heard the riff in real time. The objection wasn’t to her either having sex, or using contraceptives. It was to her thinking somebody else is obligated to pay for them. Only people who automatically think that a right to do something = a right to have it subsidized can’t grasp that difference. Such people are common on the left, I’ll grant that.

        I agree it’s a bit imprecise to characterize expecting taxpayers to pay for your condoms as prostitution. It’s being a freeloader.

        1. Brett: it’s not freeloading any more than any other kind of health care – which if properly implemented includes preventive care.

          Barbara: I had hoped to be clear that I was trying to reproduce the kind of mindset that seemed to be behind the very common criticism of the young woman. I was unmarried till my 40s but not a candidate for the 40-year-old virgin. My 19-year-old daughter has had her then boyfriend stay for breakfast. My employer’s health plan pays for her contraceptives, and it didn’t, I would.

          1. Yes, I kind of gathered that you didn’t personally condemn out of wedlock sex, but in my view it’s past time to stop trying to garner sympathy for progressive policies using conservative assumptions about morality. The reality is that there aren’t nearly as many married women trying to avoid their third or fourth child as there are unmarried women trying to avoid their first or second. Engaging in the pretense that we are primarily trying to help married women is dishonest and a tacit concession, effectively, that premarital sexual activity is in fact wrong or aberrant.

            Contraception is important to women and really effective contraception (IUDs) has high up front costs. It’s no more free loading to have it covered under insurance than it is to have other kinds of drugs covered for conditions that are clearly amenable to mediation through lifestyle changes.

          2. It’s not freeloading any less than any other kind of health care you try to get somebody else to pay for. That’s what makes something freeloading, that you’re trying to foist the bill on somebody else, not what the bill is for.

            And I really object to the notion that contraceptives, used for contraception, (As opposed to the other, more medical applications.) are properly considered “health care”. Sure they have health implications. So do ski bindings, (Try a slope without them fastened!) but that doesn’t make proper bindings “health care”. The list of things freeloaders want somebody else to pay for, whose use has health implications, is endless.

          3. Brett, when lots of people start showing up in ERs because they can’t afford to keep a decent pair of ski bindings for use in their daily life, ya know what? I’m gonna support the notion of sharing the cost of ski bindings. In fact I’ll go further than that: If there’s some group that’s particularly burdened by this cost through no fault of their own (especially if there is), let’s say women (as a completely random example), I’ll support it there as well.

            Sharing costs may technically be “freeloading” in some sense but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing — even if they don’t get your explicit permission, or I should say, even if you don’t want to see the benefits you’re reaping.

        2. It was to her thinking somebody else is obligated to pay for them. … Such people are common on the left, I’ll grant that.

          Man, am I so sick of this BS argument. To advocate for public funding is not to advocate for free benefits. We ALL pay for publicly supported benefits, and we ALL benefit. There are some things more efficiently done at the macro, rather than individual, level. It’s foolish not to take advantage of economies of scale. Are you “being a freeloader” when you use public streets, parks, and sidewalks? Of course not — you pay your fair share for the construction and maintenance of these public benefits, don’t you? Do you think people too poor to pay an even share of fuel and property taxes are freeloading and should be denied these benefits? How about schools? You don’t go to public school any more (I presume) but you still pay for them. By now you’ve paid your share and then some compared to the cost of the public education (I presume) you received. Do you feel that the kids going to the public schools in your district are freeloading off your property taxes? You’re obviously smart enough to recognize the benefits you enjoy daily due to publicly funded schools and roads, and understand that you help pay for them too. I don’t think it’s asking you to be too charitable to recognize that it’s a hell of a lot more than “imprecise” to label this woman a prostitute or even a freeloader.

          Personally I think publicly-funded contraceptives are a good idea. Doesn’t cost much and it reduces STD’s, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and over-population, which have far greater social costs. Seems like a net positive in my cost-benefit analysis. You want to disagree with public funding for contraceptives? There are plenty of honest, reasonable arguments for that position that don’t rely on mis-characterizing the opposing view and denigrating those who hold it. Why don’t you make one?

        3. Would you also call a requirement that insurance policies cover the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, and post-natal care, freeloading? Because, as has been discussed here before, it’s quite plausible that contraception actually reduces overall costs by reducing the the number of pregnancies. (And even if it doesn’t, surely the reduction saves some significant amount, making contraception cheaper than its gross costs.)

          If contraception saves money, or costs little on balance, then all this business about freeloading, etc. is beside the point. It’s just a cover for the fact that those objecting really do want women’s sexual behavior to conform to conform to their ideas as what is proper, and are happy to use the threat of unintended pregnancy to enforce their views. This is not hard to figurre out. It’s obvious. The Church, at least, is straightforward in admitting its goals. No calculation of savings would change its position.

          And Limbaugh’s rant reveals the same motive. Yes he veils it, not well, with his “cost analysis,” but the talk of sluts and prostitutes and so on tells the story. It wasn’t imprecision. It was quite precisely the message.

        4. Brett,

          I hate to break the news to you, fella, but your tax dollars are already paying for large quantities of condoms. Most public health offices distribute them gratis; many make them available on college campuses.

          It’s called breaking the disease transmission chain. Breaking that chain is an essential part of shutting down an epidemic.

    2. Oh give it a rest, Mansplainer. When have men ever stopped at attacking a women because she was married? The lying, slatternly bitches are always fair game for defamation. This is the sex class we’re talking about. If you think that any woman has a ‘human face’ to the patriarchy, you came from Planet Claire.

  7. Who sends offensive content by e-mail? I add this rather mundane question because I think that many of the comments here covered the more salient points about professional conduct of judges and Obama-derrangement-syndrome. But I ask, in all honesty, does anyone under the age of 100 not understand that e-mail is not confidential? Also-did he use a work e-mail? I’m continually shocked that so many of these Obama-heter send their witch doctor terrorist pictures to each other through e-mail. Not very well informed.

    1. Do you work in an office for a living? Seriously, this little joke, in addition to being offensive and unprofessional, is the way people like bond with each other in the modern age. That they bonded over a racist joke is disgusting but I am sorry to say not nearly as uncommon as it should be. I have had to tell people to stop sending me jokes, ditto with my husband, (mostly too racy and sexual in nature) and I have worked in offices where people forwarded or printed out wildly inappropriate and yes, hurtful racist material that disrupted the entire office. I have a client who actually imposes fines on employees who forward e-mails of this nature. (You can’t blame someone just for being a recipient.)

      1. Then the dude needs a gmail or yahoo account. A few years ago I read of a high school teacher who was placed on administrative leave for sending an e-mail to a fellow teacher, through her school e-mail account, that said something like “Take a look at this” and then provided a link to a web page promoting a talk by one of the witnesses in Kitzmiller vs Dover, speaking critically of intelligent design. I took that as my cure to not use my work e-mail for anything that was not related to work. Not even “hey, should we go out for a drink next Tuesday?”. Seriously.

  8. Don’t particularly care to defend the email, but there is a distinction I’d ask about:

    Do you grasp the difference between, “Some Republicans have racist motives for opposing Obama.” and “Some of the reason Republicans oppose Obama is racism.”? Because it may seem subtle, but it’s actually a rather important difference.

    I take it as a given that any cause of more than trivial size will have some rather represensible supporters. This doesn’t equal supporters of the cause being somewhat reprehensible.

    1. I think this is a valid point. There are plenty of Republicans who are not racist who oppose Obama for the same reasons they opposed Clinton. They’re just partisans.

      What I think is more accurate is that liberals are upset over the fact that a lot of the more virulent attacks on Obama have a racial tinge to them and certainly seem to be pandering to and encouraging racism.

      1. I think you err in assuming that the opposition to Clinton was not *also* motivated by racism. Clinton was famously too sympathetic to African Americans.

        1. Well, that’s more of a meta- or political science-y point, i.e., to what extent are partisan divisions in American politics about tribalism.

          But usually, when we are talking about racism against Obama, my understanding is that we are NOT talking simply about that but are talking about specific animus that some people bear towards him because he’s a black President. And Brett is right– at least some of the opposition to Obama is not that, but is simple partisanship directed at any Democratic President, white or black.

    2. @brett–

      i think you are making a less than clear distinction. your point would be much more clearly expressed by making the second part of your attempted distinction “all of the reason republicans oppose obama is racism.” if some republicans have racist motives in opposing obama then almost necessarily some of the reasons republicans oppose obama is racism. if you would agree to the modification of your distinction, then i can certainly agree with your conclusions.

    3. Yes but.

      1. This guy is not just some random idiot. He’s a federal judge for Pete’s sake.
      2. Obama has predictably brought out a fair amount of racism. I haven’t seen or heard of too many prominent Republicans complaining about this.
      3. There’s a pretty high level of tolerance for what I think can reasonably be described racially suggestive rhetoric, to say the least. There’s birtherism, of course, and what do you think all that talk about food stamps is about? I have my guess, and again, it’s not just anyone, it’s Presidential aspirants with considerable support.

      So I’ll agree that not all opposition to Obama is racist, if you’ll agree that racism in the Republican Party is not at all limited to a fringe element.

  9. I think part of what’s going on in this sort of incident is rebellion rather than racism per se – an urge to say taboo things simply because they’re taboo, and a desire to poke a finger in the eye of the “PC thought police.” Not so much “having a black man occupy the presidency is offensive to me” as “having to watch what I say so as not to offend anyone’s sensibilities is offensive to me.” This feeling is also driven in part by a belief that it’s okay in this “liberal secularist” culture to insult decent white folks, but not okay to insult other targets.

    This is not a defense of the judge or the worse and more frequent outrages from Limbaugh and others. The underlying pathology is pretty much the same in both instances; a selfish perspective that minimizes insults to others – “they should learn to take a joke” – while maximizing the hurts suffered by oneself and members of ones tribe – “hey, jokes can hurt.” This is essentially the same perspective that criticizes affirmative action as the moral equivalent of Jim Crow, a topsy-turvy world where the weak rule and the strong are oppressed. In other words, the culture war. It’s depressing that a full-grown man, who’s obviously been blessed with a lot of advantages in life and should know better, doesn’t know any better. I imagine that he’s sent his last racist e-mail, and that’s a good thing. But maybe someday the beliefs underlying the culture war will be equally embarrassing, and the John Birch Society and Limbaugh and the other hatemongers will be forced back to the fringe where they belong. The sooner the better.

    1. Well put. It’s a kind of mobius-strip/feedback loop where insensitivity draws from and promotes ignorance and hostility. So it’s almost impossible to untangle the racism (unconscious or otherwise) from the rebllion and defiance.

      Yet, hasn’t a large degree of racism historically been about inchoate populist anger? Topsy-turvy indeed.

    2. When the point of a joke is the understaning that people who are not white anglo-saxon are inferior the issue is not political correctness but social acceptability.
      We can expect high school boys to parade vulgarity around to prove their tough street cred. A professional with public responsibility must be held to a higher standard. This kind of display is no more acceptable than if the man showed up in public without his pants on. If a judge did such a thing he would be forced to resign and his sanity would be called into question.

    3. A full-grown man, who’s obviously been blessed with a lot of advantages in life and should know better, is not immune form stupidity, but he is also not immune from injustice. I believe that affirmative action is a good idea, but it is not sufficient as a defense to criticisms of affirmative-action to say “Aha, but African-Americans are poorer than white people.” There is an argument to be made “In the context of American society as it has developed, the fairest outcome would be for African-Americans to be even more poor compared to white people.” It is a WRONG argument, but I am not sure that it is topsy-turvy.

  10. That the Republican backlash against President Obama had a deep streak of pure, unadulterated racism should be evident to all, starting with the “birther” nonsense. It’s been the elephant in the GOP room since November 2008.

    1. You can buy a T-shirt saying ‘Of course there’s an elephant in the room. We’re Republicans!’ This is neither an admission nor an accusation of racism (though it IS a white t-shirt…)

  11. According to the website of the Ninth Circuit: “Chief District Judge Cebull has publicly acknowledged that he has acted inappropriately. By letter to Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Cebull has initiated the process by which a complaint of judicial misconduct will be brought against him. Chief Judge Kozinski has informed the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit of the complaint. The Judicial Council is expected to act expeditiously in investigating and resolving this matter.” See http://1.usa.gov/zDtw1V

    Chief Judge Kozinski has, of course, personal experience with self-initiation of a complaint of judicial misconduct. “In 2008, according to The Los Angeles Times, Kozinski ‘maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.’ In response, Kozinski called for an ethics investigation of himself. In July 2009, Kozinski was admonished by a panel headed by Judge Anthony Scirica.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Kozinski

    1. I’m often puzzled by what passes for “discipline” in the legal community. Kozinski was “admonished?” What does that mean? And what punishment might Cebull have to face? Admonishment also? I don’t see how that’s anything other than a formality. He gets a nasty letter telling him not to do it again and that’s it? So what? The guy has a lifetime appointment. He’s not going to lose that over this incident. He shouldn’t lose it, of course, but some sort of practical penalty strikes me as a good idea. How about a 10-day unpaid suspension or something?

      1. I’m going to hope for a bill of impeachment, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

        Why do you think he shouldn’t lose his lifetime appointment over this? I’m a tenured university professor, but I’m pretty sure that if I’d used my school’s equipment to forward that sort of trash I’d not be tenured very much longer. In my opinion, that sort of thing rises to the level of moral turpitude.

    2. So the judge turns himself in, knowing he’ll get his wrist slapped and he’ll play the repentance/forgiveness card and presumably “go and sin no more”. Fair enough, I can respect that. After all, any one of us has probably passed on similarly offensive jokes to friends before, I know I have. Luckily for me I’m not a federal judge and none of those jokes I’ve passed on were about the sitting President. Sure beats Limbaugh’s attitude, sincere or not.

  12. I may be the only regular commenter who’s a member of the Montana bar.

    The Bar president sent out an email earlier today to every member — before the self-referral, I think — which was quite pointed, and included the address for judicial misconduct complaints. Unlike Limbaugh, Judge Cebull doesn’t get paid to engage in this sort of thing, and will get no benefit whatever from it. He’s thinking right now, I can almost promise you, that this incident will be noted when he takes senior status (during Obama’s second term — and don’t think the President will mind that) and in his obituary. After a 43 year legal career (so far), he’s going to be known as doing something this stupid and vile. And to add to the mortification, he knows that his colleagues on the bench (I know two of the four well enough to say this outright, feel strongly about a third, and am giving the fourth the benefit of the doubt) would never ever do such a thing.

  13. So after all this admonition and shame will the man in the future recuse himself from all cases involving people of african decent? He has proven that he has prejudice (pre judging, he is a judge after all). NO of course he won’t. He will be free to toddle along doing any damned thing he feels like. GWB smirks.

  14. Brett Bellmore says:

    “It’s not freeloading any less than any other kind of health care you try to get somebody else to pay for. That’s what makes something freeloading, that you’re trying to foist the bill on somebody else, not what the bill is for.”

    Brett, on that magical mystery day when you Republicans decide to refrain from making us pay for everything which you Republicans want, then and only then will you have the right to use the term ‘freeloader’.

    1. It seems intellectual honesty is too much to ask from some folks. Same for rational arguments that don’t completely rely on mis-characterizing the opposing view and denigrating those who hold it. I’ll have to remind myself to feel guilty for “freeloading” when I vote this November without having to pay a poll tax to cover the costs of securing and counting my vote.

      1. 1. I agree that the contraception mandate is a good idea, but not all publicly supported benefits benefit all people (and certainly not all people pay for them, except in the most broad sense of “I would have a bigger tax refund if not for this expense”). That is why you need to think about the issue as part of a cost-benefit analysis, like you eventually did in your earlier post on this thread.

        2. Whether or not a public benefit is good or bad has is a different issue from whether or not the person who causes the need for the benefit has responsibility. The reason to subsidize contraception is because of concerns about the spread of disease and unplanned pregnancy. There are concerns about disease and unwanted pregnany because people insist on casual copulation. If it were not for these people’s decision to copulate casually, then there would be no need for this subsidy in the first place. Is this point sufficiently intellectually honest?

        3. I really refuse to acknowledge that thousanda of years of civilization have been wrong and that fornication should be completely normalized. I am confident that in addition to the minor economic costs of subsidizing contraceptives, there are also concerns about people being distracted from relationships based on productivity and respect as opposed to consumption and exploitation. I do not think this is a good enough reason to go against mandatory coverage for contraceptions (except for the narrow conscience exemptions etc.), but still.

        4. The email is really more offensive to Obama’s mother’s sexual interests than his father’s race. However, it is racist because the joke connects her sexual interests with his race. There is a lot more extreme racism than this, but a federal judge should still have a clearer and fairer picture of society.

        1. 2. Whether or not a public benefit is good or bad has is a different issue from whether or not the person who causes the need for the benefit has responsibility. The reason to subsidize contraception is because of concerns about the spread of disease and unplanned pregnancy. There are concerns about disease and unwanted pregnany because people insist on casual copulation. If it were not for these people’s decision to copulate casually, then there would be no need for this subsidy in the first place. Is this point sufficiently intellectually honest?

          Hell yeah! You know what else chaps my hide? Subsidies in the form of tax exemption for churches! If it weren’t for these people’s decision to congregate casually, then there would be no need for this subsidy in the first place. How dare they exercise free will doing something I would never do at society’s expense!

          3. I really refuse to acknowledge that thousanda of years of civilization have been wrong and that fornication should be completely normalized

          Fornicators!!! Seriously, we’re getting into shady territory here. My understanding is wildly erroneous if the reality is that fornication has been in any way unusual or abnormal at any point in recorded history.

          I am confident that in addition to the minor economic costs of subsidizing contraceptives, there are also concerns about people being distracted from relationships based on productivity and respect as opposed to consumption and exploitation.

          I, too, am confident that there are those who concern themselves with everybody’s behavior but their own. I try not to get too worked up about such things.

          1. Dang. Looks like I failed to properly close a tag and all the comments appearing below my last one are being italicized.
            Gonna try to fix it here.

    2. This. And that’s even before the “something that is part of your compensation package at work is not something someone else it paying for.”

      Meanwhile, if you think about it for a while, Cebull’s claim that he forwarded the mail because it was anti-Obama rather than because it was racist actually increases the magnitude of his offense. If someone were “merely” racist, that would be bad enough, but his exculpatory (!) claim appears to be that he was so dominated by political animus that he knowingly committed an act that would foreseeably create a hostile atmosphere in his office and courtroom, and bring the judiciary into disrespect. At the very least, that should disqualify him from hearing any case to which the federal government is a party while Obama is in office, and likely any case involving a dispute under rules promulgated by the current administration.

  15. One notable difference between the perfectly reasonable Move-On ad and the obscene Chief Judge Cebull email is that the former was immediately and vociferously attacked by a unified Republican establishment, with major assistance from many Democrats, including some on these pages. The results are well-known. See also, Acorn. And Shirley Sherrod.

    Judge Cebull, on the other hand, has been the subject of several snide blog posts. However, one must suspect that he will manage to survive those.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be some sort of asymmetry here.

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