Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull

Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull started the first day of the rest of his life today. The judge who sent around a racist and sexist email about Barack Obama and the president’s dead mother started the “damage control” process that will never really end.

Richard Cebull could emancipate slaves and everybody would still know he’s a racist. Obviously, his family and friends already knew he was racist, but now the general public gets to know. There’s nothing for it now. Whether or not he will still be allowed to have a job is pretty much all he can fight for.

And he is: he’s voluntarily asked the Ninth Circuit to review his conduct. And he’s written a letter of apology to President Obama — who is rapidly on his way to becoming the most poorly treated president in American history (even though the last one was openly thought to be mentally retarded, and the one before that was impeached for getting a BJ).

But we’ll get to all that. First, free of charge, I’m going to slow down long enough let everybody catch up to why the original letter was racist, and why sending the thing makes Cebull a racist, too….

First of all, if you don’t want to engage in the racial part of this matter, and just want to know the new facts, skip ahead to the next page. Seriously, I’m tired and sick, and it’s Friday, and I do not want to deal with white people still butthurt about losing their slaves.

Even if you generally disagree with me, try to have an open mind about this and continue reading. I think it might be able to help you see why one side is like “this is clearly racist,” and another side is like, “well, was it really.”

Elie’s Three Universally Applicable Signs That Your Joke Is Racist:

Rule 1. You yourself called it racist when confronted with it.

Even if the joke doesn’t seem racist to the person who heard it, if the person who said it immediately says that it’s racist, we have a racist joke.

Say you put a cross on my door at night because your soft-headed, racist ass mistakenly thinks that black people are afraid of crosses like vampires, and because you think crosses are spooky, and you don’t like me. The next day, I say: “Dude, what’s up with the cross on my door?” And you respond, “Look, I know it was racist, but I’m not that way really, I just so wanted to spook you that I put a racist thing on your door.” Then guess what, you’ve transubstantiated putting the cross on my door into a racist joke. Rule 1 of my law looks to intent, and it is dispositive.

Here, Judge Cebull says, “I did not forward it because of the racist nature of it. Although it is racist.” Stop. He just told you what he forwarded was racist.

Rule 2. If the joke would NEVER BE MADE about a similarly circumstanced white person.

I alluded to Bill Clinton earlier. He was raised for a time by a single mother. “Clinton” isn’t even his original surname; that was William Jefferson Blythe. “Clinton” is the last name of Bill Clinton’s stepfather, who married his mother after his biological father was killed prior to his birth. (Yeah, I just watched the American Experience on Clinton). Didn’t anybody… sorry, not just anybody, did the chief judge of a state ever get caught in a joke about Clinton’s mom having sex with a dog?

I don’t think so. And let’s not forget that Clinton was hated by the opposing party because of his sex life. Nobody went after Clinton like this.

Not that they could have — the very structure of the joke requires a mixed-race child. If your joke has a racist set up, it’s probably going to have a racist punchline.

But Rule 2 is broader than “could.” It contemplates “would.” This joke would not be made about anybody other than a dark-skinned person even if you could make it make sense.

And with that, we don’t even have to get to the subtle suggestion that a white woman having sex with a black man is like a whore banging a dog. Cebull’s joke is racist on its face.

Rule 3. Would you walk up and down the streets of a black community with your joke being broadcast in some way and expect to not get your ass kicked?

Often in these joke-gone-bad situations, the perpetrator is able to find one black man who either honestly wasn’t offended, or honestly doesn’t care to say that the joke is not racist. Then they rush to the cameras and say, “I have black friends. D’Arnelllio?… Dari-jello?… Whatever, my black friend says that it’s not racist.”

To which I always want to say, “Look, I don’t know D’angelo from Adam, but why don’t you put it up for a vote of all black people, and see how that works out for you?” (Not that there’s a secret site where all black people get together and vote on things like how the best way to get white people to stop stealing our culture is to make them think we all became uncool and started liking Tyler Perry. I’m saying this does not happen.)

It’s okay to take risks with humor. It’s okay to go for it. But if you don’t even think you can convince a simple majority of black people that your funny-funny is not racist, it means it’s probably racist. Black people are pretty good at knowing when they’ve been insulted.

Okay. I hope that helped. Now here’s the one simple rule to determine if a racist action creates the rebuttable presumption of a racist person.

Did you make your racist action in the context of your field of expertise, or did you travel to somebody else’s field to act like a racist?

If the former, you get a pass — one effing pass you bastards. If the latter, sorry sir, we have all the evidence we need.

I think if Judge Cebull had done something racist in his courtroom, but it was a silly thing and the first time anybody could remember him doing it, I’d still call the thing racist, but not necessarily Cebull. If you have to do something over and over, day after day, you might mess up. It happens. It doesn’t happen to everybody, but it happens. But when you go outside your expertise, to your hobby or your personal life, and you do or say something racist, I think it sheds a lot of light on what is truly in your heart. Professionally, you need to show a pattern, but personally, nobody has to respect you for three strikes. What can I tell you, you f**k one pig.

Anyway, my rules are not the only ones. I’m sure people will come up with others. But I think mine should cover all of the obvious cases. Believe it or not, it’s actually not that hard to go through this life without being a racist a**hole.

So, now that his faults are out there, what is Cebull going to do about it?


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