The co-founder of Rap Genius, the website that allows readers to explain what the hell Kanye means in his lyrics through annotations, was fired this weekend after posting jokes about Elliot Rodger’s 140-page misogynist “manifesto.” After emailing the manifesto to his parents, therapist and others, Rodger went on to kill six people near the UC Santa Barbara campus before taking his own life.
Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam found this funny, apparently, because he read through the document and added annotations to Rodger’s writing. As first reported by the tech blog Valleywag, Moghadam noted that Rodger’s writing was “beautifully written” and “artful.” He also speculated a woman Rodger once knew would “go on to attend USC and turn into a spoiled hottie” and wrote about Rodger’s sister, “MY GUESS: his sister is smokin hot.”
The co-founder and CEO of Rap Genius, Tom Lehman, made no bones about hustling out Moghadam quickly. In a statement which can be read in full on ReCode, Lehman said that his co-founder “failed as a community leader”:
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. … 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.
For his part, Moghadam issued a not-really-apology to Valleywag.
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 judgement, I am very sorry for writing it.
Cool story, techbro. Every single person in the United States is “fascinated” by that manifesto. But most of us aren’t adding our own little quips to it about how hot a murderer’s sister might be.
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