Federal District Judge And University Professor Caught Promoting Racist Views

March 2, 2012
Written by Janice S. Ellis... in
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A Montana U.S District Judge Richard Cebull circulates a racist email about President Obama. Photo Credit: JAMES WOODCOCK/Billings Gazette/missoulian.com

When a U.S. District Judge and a professor from a major university blatantly display racism — all in one week — how do we put that in perspective as we work to achieve racial harmony and understanding?

Two separate, but concerning, incidents occurred this week, which should give us pause. While these two incidents became public, it begs the question, how often do such incidents occur in the course of a day or week and never make national news?

While it doesn’t matter which occurred first, the fact is neither should have occurred at all — given the leadership and trust positions both of these public servants hold.

Let’s look at the abhorrent action of a federal judge in Montana, appointed for life, who was comfortable forwarding a racist joke about President Barack Obama to a list of his colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. The judge boldly stated, “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.”

The joke the judge circulated is despicable. I will let you judge for yourself. It reads, “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 kind of debasing and disgraceful characterization about the President of the United States and his mother, circulated by a federal judge is simply inexcusable, abominable, a miscarriage of human decency. How could anyone expect unbiased justice to be meted out in his court if the case involved racial equity or equal treatment under the law?

Is his remaining on the bench a miscarriage of justice within itself when his actions exhibited not only poor judgment but an indication of his true character?

What should be the appropriate punishment for U.S District Judge Richard Cebull?

Then there were the racist remarks by a popular professor of religion at Brigham Young University. Randy Bott, designated as the “highest-rated professor in America in 2008 according to RateMyProfessor.com, told the Washington Post that the Churn of the Latter Day Saints prohibited black men from becoming priests because they were not ready for priesthood.

Bott’s rationale, “What is discrimination? I think that is keeping something from somebody that would be a benefit to them right? But what if it wouldn’t have a benefit to them? You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them”

Professor Bott teaches required courses, including preparing future missionaries, to thousands of students each year. Apparently, he has a long-standing reputation for his racist content in the courses he teaches.

Why is he continually allowed to teach? Why are his racists views tolerated? More importantly, why is he allowed to promulgate them class after class, year after year?

It begs a broader and more important question about the Judge and the professor. While what they believe and espouse is detrimental and despicable, but are we even more so for allowing them to continue?

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