Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal is an internet troll when he's not running the state's schools. Under the pseudonyms ‘Falcon9' and ‘Thucydides' Huppenthal engaged in online debates writing such musings as welfare recipients are "lazy pigs" and "we all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English."
There's nothing illegal about what he did. Huppenthal has every right to write, say and even believe the things he wrote. Some who read this may even agree with his points of view. That's America. Everyone gets to share their opinions.
Many of Huppenthal's online comments, as reported here by blogger Bob Lord, were attempts to "anonymously" defend himself. This was ultimately his undoing. His continued self-praise and ego are what led to his exposure and connected him to his other inflammatory comments.
Those writings matter because of trust and credibility. That's one problem with them.
If Huppenthal's truly believes those receiving state and federal assistance are "lazy pigs" or that Arizona needs to pass an English-only law while banning Spanish language billboards, he should state them publicly during his re-election campaign rather than hiding behind the veil of online anonymity.
Clearly, Huppenthal doesn't trust voters to hear his true opinions or he doesn't think he can get elected by being so argumentative.
Truth be told, he is allowed to have private thoughts and opinions that never have to be uttered in public. But, it was Huppenthal who took his private comments and wrote them on public forums. He just hoped to never be exposed as ‘Falcon9' or ‘Thucydides'. Huppenthal took a risk and that risk backfired on him. Now he's being held accountable.
That's why the state's education head is distancing himself from his online troll persona. In a press conference Wednesday, Huppenthal said:
"My blog comments were hurtful, I'm here today because of those hurtful blog comments, I'm here today to repudiate those blog comments, I'm here to renounce those blog comments, they're not what is in my mind; they don't reflect the love that is in my heart."
Apology accepted, right? Not quite and there-in lies the other problem.
Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Keegan said Wednesday that Huppenthal didn't seem very remorseful when she called him this week to ask him to resign. During that conversation, Keegan said, Huppenthal told her there was nothing wrong with his online commentary, something he repeated on Blog for Arizona.
Thanks for looking up some of my comments and repeating them. They don't embarrass me. In fact, a few of them are quite impressive. In fairness, why don't you have Thucydides day and repeat all of my comments?
Better yet, Mr. Superintendent, why don't you repeat them in front of a microphone so voters know your true positions? It sure would be nice to have a politician do just that: Tell the truth for once.