Whatever you do, don't call Taylor Swift a white supremacist. Taylor Swift's lawyers have threatened to sue a blog if it doesn't remove an article that refers to the pop superstar as a white supremacist sympathizer. The blog, PopFront, whose mission is apparently "re-centering the national political conversation and bringing together the left," and the writer, Meghan Herning, claim that Taylor Swift is an icon of white supremacist, Nationalist, and other fringe groups. The fringe groups claim that Swift's lyrics are speaking to them, especially her latest single, "Look What You Made Me Do." Herning writes that Swift "is giving support to the white nationalist movements through lyrics that speak to their anger, entitlement, and selfishness."
In the letter to PopFront's Meghan Herning, Taylor Swift's lawyer, William J. Briggs II, explained that story on the blog is completely false and offensive. The lawyer went on to say that the story is malicious towards singer Taylor Swift. He had this to say.
"The story is replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms. Swift. It appears to be a malicious attack against Ms. Swift that goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead, which is a baseless fiction masquerading as fact and completely misrepresents Ms. Swift."
The letter says Swift has no obligation to state her political views, but proceeds to convey her condemnation of white supremacy by saying, "Let this letter stand as a yet another unequivocal denouncement by Ms. Swift of white supremacy and the alt-right."
Meghan Herning described the letter to be "threatening and aggressive," so she decided to seek the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. Lawyers with the civil rights organization determined her writing was opinion-based and protected by the First Amendment. Speaking on behalf of Herning and the blog, whose slogan is "Culture + Politics from the Left Coast," ACLU attorney Michael Risher had this to say.
"Mrs. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech. 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 embraced Ms. Swift."
The news comes at a time when the release of a new Taylor Swift album is imminent. "Look What You Made Me Do" was released before the album and now the tracklist for the long- awaited album has officially been released after it leaked on to social media. The album is set to drop on Friday, so it's an opportune time for Taylor Swift to denounce the white supremacy rumors ahead of the album's release before she has to speak about it while doing press for the record.
The ACLU is protecting the blog and its writer under freedom of speech since the writing is an opinion piece. It almost seems like the best way to have dealt with the situation would probably have been to just ignore the story, since it has now gone on to gain international attention. Regardless, Taylor Swift doesn't need any help promoting her new album and it would seem that just about anybody with half of a brain realizes that the story is complete fiction, written and tailor-made for the disinformation age. Read more about what the ACLU has to say about the matter via The ACLU.