After threatening to silence a blog, Taylor got a letter from the ACLU and they absolutely burned her.
The whole thing started when the blog PopFront wrote a critical article called “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation” about Swift, arguing that she caters to white supremacists.
The article cites lyrics in Taylor’s song “Look What You Made Me Do” and claims that it shows “quiet white support of a racial hierarchy.” The author also called out Swift for refusing to condemn Nazis after Charlottesville and for her overall lack of political activism.
Once the article got the attention of Swift, her team sent a letter threatening legal action if the blog didn’t take the article down, citing defamation as their justification.
Things only went downhill for Swift after that, however. PopFront contacted the ACLU, claiming that Swift was trying to silence the freedom of the press. And with the freedom of the press currently under scrutiny by our very own President, the ACLU couldn’t take the matter lightly.
They sent Taylor’s lawyer a strongly worded letter in which they explained that no, PopFront would not be taking the article down as they had every right to publish it. They wrote,
“Much of the blog post is devoted to a discussion of the current resurgence of white supremacy and the fact that at least some white supremacists have tried to co-opt Ms. Swift and her music to serve their own ugly, racist purposes. Another section of it discusses the history of the eugenics movement in this country and that movement’s continuing ill effects. All of this is core political speech that cannot possibly be defamatory because it is not even about Ms. Swift.”
They added that Taylor knows what fame comes with — criticism and that she must be able to take it.
“As your client knows all too well, celebrity is a double-edged sword: “Fame … brings power, money, respect, adulation, and self-gratification. It also may bring close scrutiny that can lead to adverse as well as favorable comment. When someone steps into the public spotlight, or when he remains there once cast into it, he must take the bad with the good.” (Waldbaum, 627 F.2d at 1294). Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.”
The entire letter is well-crafted and perfectly executed. Just because Taylor doesn’t like her someone’s criticism of her doesn’t mean she can threaten action. And especially in a time when freedom of speech and freedom of the press are hotly debated topics, this is not something that we can afford to play around with.
You can read the ACLU’s letter in its entirety here.