Why do we, as pop-culture pundits, continue to discuss Brown's violent past, even though he's serving his probation and is doing community service? Anyone who saw the horrific picture of Rihanna's beaten face has one excellent example as to why Brown's name will always be synonymous with domestic violence. But there are other examples of celebrity domestic abuse - Charlie Sheen, for instance, was accused of beating his then-wife Brooke Mueller, yet his FX TV show "Anger Management" was renewed for a whopping 90 episodes. It's Sheen's rather public meltdown from last year that is referenced, instead of his long history of using his significant others as punching bags.
Sheen, however, has always been an unapologetic wild man. Tales of his drug use and hard partying have been in celebrity rags since he became famous. That by no means justifies Sheen's behavior, and I hope one day his past violent acts are similarly associated with his name, but it's part of the reason we have cultural amnesia when it comes to Sheen's past.
It certainly didn't help Brown that Rihanna is America's bad-girl sweetheart. She's a part of us. It was like Brown was hurting a friend. Rihanna also rebounded, her career bigger than ever. She's Tina Turner, post Ike.
Brown, though, wasn't Ike Turner or Charlie Sheen, or even Mel Gibson. Pre-incident, he was the clean-cut R&B golden boy who sang love songs like "Forever" and made a name for himself in family movies like "This Christmas."
After Michael Vick was rightly vilified for animal abuse, he went on a speaking tour, acknowledging his wrongs. He repositioned himself as a family man, kept his head down and played football. Regardless of his performance on the field, he tried to seem like a good guy. But after Brown was outed as a girlfriend beater, he never atoned publicly.
Instead, he doubled down, changing from the clean-cut pop star to the bleach blond, heavily inked (his neck tattoo suspiciously resembles Rihanna's beaten face) bad boy. Last year, in a rage, he broke his dressing room window at "Good Morning America." This Halloween he dressed up as Osama bin Laden.
Brown's response: "It's f------ Halloween," he told Power 106 radio host Big Boy. "It's a m------------ pagan holiday, we dress our kids up as Satan, demons, little goblins and all this other stuff. Get over it, people."
But we can't get over it, because Brown's behavior doesn't let us get over it. He consistently flaunts that he beat his girlfriend and that he's still famous. The machine that makes money off of him made sure that he stayed that way. But we shouldn't forget what he's done, and his fans shouldn't either.
On Twitter: @mollyeichel