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Co Founder Of Rap Genius Resigns After Annotating UCSB Shooter's Memoir


rap genius Mahbod Moghadam

Almost every time there is a terrible tragedy, as the one which just happened at UC Santa Barbara, there is a connection with music. Most of the people blame the music the deranged shooter/killer was listening to, but in this case it is a little bit different.

Who was that guy named Elliot Rodger? Have you watched the videos he left behind? It is beyond disturbing because, of course, he was not acting despite the satanic laugh and the American-psycho cold monologue directed against girls who rejected him! What a deranged human being, what a psychopath justifying his horrible crimes by his loneliness!

It’s unbelievable, on Saturday, the police removed three bodies from his apartment, three students he probably killed before going on a shooting rampage! He killed 6 people and wounded 13 others, and he was found dead in his BMW after blasting away with a semiautomatic handgun at people in the streets. What a terrible carnage.

Like the mad man he was, Rodger also left a manifesto,  a 141-page memoir, which was thoroughly annotated by Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam!! The memoir is actually uploaded on the Rap Genius site with annotations like ‘Beautifully written’, ‘artful sentence’, totally admiring Rodger’s writing, and it may make you feel  extremely uncomfortable knowing what happened.

Moghadam released the following statement:

‘I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up

I got carried away with making the annotations and making any comment about his sister was in horrible taste, thankfully the rap genius community edits out my poor judgment, I am very sorry for writing it’

Yeah, he had called Rodger’s sister as ‘smoking hot’! But, according to Pitchfork, Moghadam has resigned, and CEO and co-founderTom Lehman released this statement:

‘Yesterday the RapAnnotate Genius community annotated Elliot Rodger’s manifesto on News Genius. Because this tragedy is still so raw, there was internal debate as to whether this document belonged on the site at all. Ultimately we decided that it was worthy of close reading – understanding the psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves.

The current version of the annotated document is far from great, but the hope is that the annotations will improve over time as the story unfolds and it will eventually be a good resource for people looking to understand this tragedy.

Almost all the annotations were at least attempting a close reading – they were genuinely, though imperfectly, trying to add context to the text and make it easier to understand.

However, Mahbod Moghadam, one of my co-founders, annotated the piece with annotations that not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.

Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a new Rap Genius user, it would be up to our community leaders, who set the tone of the site and our approach to annotation, to delete them and explain to the new user why they were unacceptable.

Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a Rap Genius moderator, that person would cease to be an effective community leader and would have to step down.

And Mahbod, our original community leader, is no exception. In light of this, Mahbod has resigned – both in his capacity as an employee of the company, and as a member of our board of directors, effective immediately.

Mahbod is my friend. He’s a brilliant, creative, complicated person with a ton of love in his heart. Without Mahbod Rap Genius would not exist, and I am grateful for all he has done to help Rap Genius succeed. But I cannot let him compromise the Rap Genius mission – a mission that remains almost as delicate and inchoate as it was when we three founders decided to devote our lives to it almost 5 years ago.

Tom Lehman
Co-Founder & CEO’

Sure, lots of people have been fascinated by criminals and serial killers have received tons of love letters, plus we always think we must separate the art from the artist, right? May be Rodger’s writing was really good and deserve to be admired despite the killing spree. May be, but right now nobody is able to separate the bloody slaughter from Rodger’s prose.

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