The ACLU is defending a blogger after Taylor Swift and her attorney sent a cease and desist letter and threatened to sue PopFront editor Meghan Herning. PopFront published a blog post examining Swift's popularity with young members of the alt-right and referred to the singer as "an icon of white supremacist, nationalists, and other fringe groups."
The ACLU of Northern California, where PopFront is based, announced on Monday that it sent a letter to Swift's attorney, refuting Swift's claims of defamation against PopFront. In the letter, attorneys from the ACLU said, "Ms. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech ... your claims that the blog post has defamed Ms. Swift are completely unsupported. If the blog post's interpretation of Ms. Swift's lyrics were defamatory, your letter's slanted interpretation of that post would be, too (and more so, since you misquote the post)."
"Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable," ACLU attorney Matt Cagle said. He also seemed to refer to Swift's song, "Wildest Dreams," in the statement. "Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech."
Herning, the blogger, said, "The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon. These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down."
Herning's blog post examined the lyrics to revenge song "Look What You Made Me Do" and said, "Many on the alt-right see the song as part of a 're-awakening,' in line with (President) Trump's rise. At one point in the accompanying music video, Taylor lords over an army of models from a podium, akin to what Hitler had in Nazis Germany. The similarities are uncanny and unsettling."
The post also said Swift's feud with Kanye West advances a narrative of "white victimhood" and discussed how members of the alt-right have co-opted Swift's lyrics.
The ACLU published the letter from Swift's attorney. The attorney said the letter was "confidential" -- a claim the ACLU called "utter nonsense." The letter to Herning said the post contains "hideous falsehoods" about the singer and said Swift would sue if PopFront did not issue a retraction of equal prominence to the original story, remove the post from all media sources and cease and desist from any further publication or dissemination.
The ACLU is demanding that Swift's attorney respond by Nov. 13 regarding if Swift still plans to sue the blog.