The ACLU is going head-to-head with Taylor Swift.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when the singer’s legal team sent a threatening letter to the blog PopFront over a September article that highlighted Swift’s popularity among neo-Nazis. The piece, titled "Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation," was penned by editor Meghan Herning, who analyzed the hit single "Look What You Made Me Do" and its connection to the alt-right.
Later in the song, there is another telling line: "I don’t like your kingdom keys. They once belonged to me. You asked me for a place to sleep. Locked me out and threw a feast (what?)." These lyrics are the most explicit in speaking to white anger and affirming white supremacy. The lyrics speak to the white people resentful of any non-white person having a position of power and privilege. Think of Barack Obama: the fears of white dispossession of power were actualized in his success, which was a huge factor in the appeal of candidate Trump. He is a patriarchal, rich white man that embodied the anger and white supremacist ideology.
Taylor, who has been criticized for refusing to denounce her neo-Nazi fans, wasn’t too happy about Herning’s post. So, her lawyers threatened to sue the blog for defamation if it didn’t delete the story or issue a retraction.
"The story is replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms. Swift," Swift’s attorney William J. Briggs wrote in a letter to PopFront. "It appears to be a malicious attack against Ms. Swift that goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead…As further shown below, PopFront is substantially liable to Ms. Swift for defamation."
The letter also addressed the controversy regarding the mystery surrounding Swift’s political affiliations. After she refused to endorse a presidential campaign in the 2016 election, many wondered if the singer was a secret Trump supporter.
"The story attempts to support the preposterous allegation that Ms. Swift has white supremacist/alt-right views by stating that she did not campaign for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and did not endorse Ms. Clinton until November 8, 2016. This is absurd," the letter read in part. "Ms. Swift has no obligation to campaign for any particular political candidate or broadcast her political views, and the fact that her political views are not public enough for your taste does not give you the authority to presume what her political opinions may be or that her political views correlate to the support of white supremacy."
Shortly after she received the letter from Swift’s attorneys, Herning contacted the ACLU. On Monday, the organization announced they had responded to Swift’s legal team on behalf of Herning, insisting PopFront "will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech"
"The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon," Herning said in an ACLU statement. "These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down."
The ACLU has asked Swift’s attorneys to send a letter stating they will not pursue legal action against Herning. They’ve requested a response by Nov. 13.