Taylor Swift Called Out by ACLU after Cease-and-Desist Letter

A threatening cease-and-desist letter from Taylor Swift's legal team leads a writer to enlist help from the ACLU.

Megan Herning, a blogger/writer for an up and coming blog, PopFront, penned a post tying Taylor Swift to white supremacy. 

Unfortunately, Herning received a Cease-and-Desist letter from the singer’s legal team demanding she take down and retract the story. This action by Swift and her team came under scrutiny by the ACLU, who released a press release on the incident defending Herning and her right to free speech. In the press release, the ACLU did not mince words in calling out the actions here of Swift and her legal team, stating:

“The blog post is a mix of core political speech and critical commentary; it discusses current politics in this country, 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.”

Herning originally had posted an article speaking of how the alt-right had latched onto Swift and dubbed her their white supremacists icon. The writer also digs into the lyrics from the recent song, “Look What You Made Me Do” saying that “I don’t like your kingdom keys” is similar to “We will not be replaced.” From there Herning states that the video has Swift as a leader standing over people much like Hitler did, concluding “it is hard to believe that Taylor had no idea that the lyrics of her latest single read like a defense of white privilege and white anger[.]”

Although Herning’s analysis can be seen as over the top, she also has the right to dissect a song with its accompanying video and give her opinion, even if it is one Swift does not like.

After Herning released the article she received the letter from Swift’s legal team on October 20th, she reached out to the ACLU. The letter suggested that because of copyright law, it was a confidential document and there could be negative consequences for Hening in acknowledging the letter publicly in any way. Upon reviewing the letter, the ACLU deemed this threat bogus and called it out as a legally false intimidation tactic. The ACLU has since released the document to the public as well and stated Hening’s blog post is opinion and therefore protected under the first amendment and any attempt to force its removal or retraction is a violation of that right.

This is not the first time Swift has found herself in hot water regarding racially-sensitive topics, as her famous “Shake it Off” video received some controversy for perpetuating black stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Swift, once thought of as a darling of pop culture, has seen her public perception shift in a negative way in recent years, culminating in the backlash following the release of her recent single “Look What You Made Me Do”.

There has been no response from Swift or her legal team at this time in reference to the ACLU press release.

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