Rap Genius Co-Founder Quits After “Insensitive” Annotations on Murderer’s Manifesto

Mahbod Moghadam has left the crowdsourced lyric company following inappropriate comments on alleged mass murder Elliot Rodger’s manifesto.

May 27, 2014

Mahbod Moghadam, co-founder of misfiring, crowdsourced lyric site Rap Genius, was forced to resign from the company on Sunday, Huffington Post reports. News Genius, RG's sister site that purports to "make sense of the news", had taken the decision to publish the 141-page manifesto of alleged mass murderer Elliot Rodger, to which Moghadam added annotations that displayed "gleeful insensitivity and misogyny," according to Rap Genius CEO Tom Lehman. Moghadam's annotations, which included grossly inappropriate compliments on Rodger's turn of phrase and speculations about the physical appearance of his sister, have since been removed and he is apparently "very sorry" for writing them but it seems Lehman had no qualms about issuing marching orders. You can read Lehman's full statement below:

Yesterday the Rap 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

Rap Genius Co-Founder Quits After “Insensitive” Annotations on Murderer’s Manifesto