But the great benefit of comments sections... much like the entirety of the free and open internet... is that they allow us to dispense with the pretentious facades the people in charge of things put on and catch a glimpse of what they actually think.
Under various pseudonyms, including Falcon9, Thucky and Thucydides, Huppenthal has authored hundreds of comments at the progressive Blog for Arizona since at least 2011.
He engaged in self-promotion, writing in February that he's "sure" Huppenthal, who's up for re-election this year, "will be our next superintendent."
He once decried Barack Obama for "rewarding the lazy pigs with food stamps (44 million people), air-conditioning, free health care, flat-screen TV's (typical of 'poor' families)." and even went birther, claiming that the president wrote in his memoir that "he was born in Kenya!!!"
In one comment, he compared Margaret Sanger to Adolf Hitler, writing that the Planned Parenthood founder "fed 16 million African-Americans into the abortion mills. He also argued that Franklin D. Roosevelt's "disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany's economy went into the tank."
So you have to feel for the people of Arizona. The man running their school system is a crazy birther who likens poor people to "lazy pigs." This is reprehensible but it's also valuable information for people to know about this person.
Similarly, the Perricone affair has been valuable to us in New Orleans. It's important that we understand the US Attorney's office is not staffed by crime fighting White Knights. It is a powerful political office that runs on bullying and hubris.
Most importantly, these episodes are not outliers. This is really what people out there are like. If you have any doubt, just read the damn comments.
And yet, had it not been for the comments section, no one would have told us this about them. Our intermediaries in the press would have gone on celebrating the supposed dignity of the office while ignoring the terrible people that actually worked there. Thank goodness the terrible people were allowed to tell us directly how terrible they were.
That might not happen as readily in the future.