Two months ago Meghan Herning, editor of the small blog PopFront, wrote an article critical of Taylor Swift and her single “Look What You Made Me Do.” Herning noted that Swift is held up as a pop icon in the white-supremacist world and that many neo-Nazis believe that Swift secretly shares their beliefs. The post made note of “dog whistles to white supremacy in the lyrics of her latest single,” and it ended by calling on Swift to denounce white supremacy: “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.”
Two weeks ago, Herning received a letter from William J. Briggs, II, an attorney representing Swift, demanding that she remove the story and issue a retraction. The letter labels Herning’s blog post as “provably false and defamatory” and threatens a lawsuit. In a new press release, the ACLU of Northern California has taken Herning’s side, writing that Herning’s blog post is “a mix of political speech and critical commentary” and that Swift’s lawyer’s claim is “meritless.” ACLU lawyer Michael Risher writes, “This is a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech.”
Also, the ACLU has jokes! ACLU lawyer Matt Cagle writes, “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.” And “not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”
The ACLU is now asking that Swift’s lawyers write a new letter promising that they will not pursue a lawsuit against Herning.