Rap Genius Co-Founder Resigns After Writing Offensive Comments On Elliot Rodger’s Manifesto

Mahbod Moghadam, the co-founder of Rap Genius, has resigned after annotating the UCSB shooter’s manifesto with comments like “beautifully written.”

The founders of the website Rap Genius, Mahbod Moghadam, Ilan Zechory, and Tom Lehman, pose on April 2, 2012. Handout / Reuters

Rap Genius was designed to annotate or interpret lyrics, but has come to be used for all types of documents, including the manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, who killed six people earlier this week.

On Sunday, Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam used the service himself to write annotations throughout the University of California, Santa Barbara, shooter’s 141-page manifesto.

Moghadam’s comments attempt to understand Rodger’s family, home, and addictions, but many of them cross the line by offering praise for the way the manifesto is written and calling Rodger’s sister a “hottie” and “smokin hot,” which is particularly insensitive given the misogynist motives behind Rodger’s killing spree.

The inappropriate comments have since been deleted from Rap Genius, but were first captured in screenshots by Gawker.

In this comment, Moghadam wrote that Rodger’s manifest is “beautifully written.”

Via gawker.com

Moghadam said he thinks Rodger’s sister must be “smokin hot.”

Via gawker.com

Here, again, Moghadam writes it is “beautifully written.”

Via gawker.com

Later on Sunday, Moghadam apologized for the comments on Twitter:

I want to apologize to everyone. I need to hear these criticisms, reflect for real, and work on becoming a better person

— mahbodmoghadam (@Mabode)

On Monday, Rap Genius co-founder and CEO Tom Lehman took it one step further and released a statement saying Moghadam had resigned:


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.

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