The American Civil Liberties Union has released a letter defending a Northern California blogger who received a cease-and-desist letter from Taylor Swift's legal team after posting a blog post that connected the pop star to white supremacists.
In her post "Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation" on the entertainment site PopFront, Meghan Herning wrote about how Swift had become "an icon of white supremacist, nationalists, and other fringe groups," especially when it comes to the song "Look What You Made Me Do," and its accompanying video.
"Many on the alt-right see the song as part of a 're-awakening,' in line with Trump's rise," Herning writes in the post. "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."
Herning added that the pop star's historical silence regarding political issues "is not innocent, it is calculated." The blog also concludes that Swift should "state her beliefs out loud for the world" because "silence in the face of injustice means support of the oppressor.
PopFront, USA Today reports, received a letter from Swift's legal team on Oct. 25 in which lawyer William J. Briggs II threatened the blog with a lawsuit and asked to have the post taken down. According to the letter, the initial posting was "replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms. Swift" and goes out of its way to "portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead."
ACLU lawyers responded to the letter, writing that Herning's post was constitutionally protected speech that is "a mix of core political speech and critical commentary."
"It discusses current politics in this county, the recent rise of white supremacy, and the fact that some white supremacists have apparently embraced Ms. Swift, along with a critical interpretation of some of Ms. Swift's music, lyrics, and videos," the ACLU lawyers wrote.
On Monday, Herning published another post, "Taylor Swift tries to silence PopFront with cease and desist letter." She wrote that Swift's choice to become litigious sets "a dangerous precedent because it would mean any public figure could chill any criticism levied at them."
"The press should not be bullied by legal action nor frightened into submission from covering any subject it chooses," Herning wrote.
This is not good timing for Swift to encounter bad publicity: Her new album, Reputation, drops Friday, and the lead single, "Look What You Made Me Do," has not dominated the charts like her previous singles.