Taylor Swift has threatened to sue a blogger who made comparisons between her single, ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘, and the rise of the alt-right in America – and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is involved.
It all started on September 5 of this year, when PopFront editor Meghan Herning wrote a post titled ‘Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation‘.
The post detailed the embrace of Taylor Swift by the alt-right, the interpretations of her lyrics to alt-right chants (see: “I don’t like your kingdom keys. They once belonged to me” versus white men chanting “you will not replace us” in Charlottesville), and Taylor’s reluctance to publicly state her beliefs one way or the other.
At one point, it drew comparisons between Swift in the ‘LWYMMD’ music video and none other than Adolf Hitler, including a visual comparison.
“At one point in the accompanying music video, Taylor lords over an army of models from a podium, akin to what Hitler had in Nazi Germany. The similarities are uncanny and unsettling.”
It ended on this note:
And while pop musicians are not respected world leaders, they have a huge audience and their music often reflects their values. So Taylor’s silence is not innocent, it is calculated. And if that is not true, she needs to state her beliefs out loud for the world — no matter what fan base she might lose, because in America 2017, silence in the face of injustice means support for the oppressor.
Fast-forward to October 25, and Herning received a cease and desist letter from Swift’s attorney, claiming that her piece was “replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods” and “knowingly regurgitates, repeats, and attempts to expand on a malicious lie.”
It took particular issue with the final line, that to be silent in the face of oppression is to support the oppressor, a viewpoint that Herning is neither the first person to present nor the first person to apply to Taylor Swift. (Remember the furore when she urged her followers “to go out and vote” during the 2016 presidential election, without making it clear who she herself was voting for?)
“Among other things, the story propagates such hideous falsehoods such as 1) ‘Taylor’s lyrics play to [a] subtle, quiet white support of a racial hierarchy;’ 2) that there are similarities between Ms. Swift and Adolf Hitler; 3) that the ‘lyrics [of “Look What You Made Me Do”] are the most explicit in speaking to white anger and affirming white supremacy;’ and 4) that Ms. Swift’s purported silence regarding white supremacy means she supports Donald Trump and identifies with the white supremacist/al-right movement.”
The letter goes on to say that it should serve as an “unequivocal denouncement by Ms. Swift of white supremacy and the alt-right,” but attempts to use copyright law to prevent Herning from ever making it public.
After she received the letter, Herning reached out to the ACLU for support, which is now claiming that the blog post is opinion protected by the First Amendment.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable. Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech,” said ACLU attorney Matt Cagle.
“The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon. These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down.”
They’ve requested a response from Swift and her attorney by Nov. 13 confirming that they won’t pursue a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Tay Tay’s new album Reputation is out November 10, so while this isn’t exactly good timing for her, it’s relevant as all hell.