Taylor Swift threatens to sue writer over white supremacy critique

Taylor Swift.   Mark Davis  Getty Images

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.

That said, despite years of this Swift subplot bubbling not terribly deep beneath the surface, the singer has yet to denounce Nazism, white supremacy, or related ideologies with which she has been associated.

The left-leaning blog PopFront published the post in question in September.

On October 25, Herning received a threatening letter about the article, from Swift's attorney, William J. Briggs, II. The letter threatened legal action against Herning and PopFront unless the site retracted the article and removed it from social media.

The ACLU argue: "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".

Briggs wrote that Herning's post was "provably false and defamatory".

"Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable", said ACLU attorney Matt Cagle.

Though the lawyers claim their letter to Herning should act as an "unequivocal denouncement by Ms". ACLU lawyer Michael Risher writes, "This is a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech".

The letter takes subtle jabs at some of Swift's lyrics, saying that "criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation", and that "applying these fundamental constitutional principles to your four "hideous falsehoods" shows that not even in your wildest dreams can they constitute defamation".

ACLU attorneys have determined that there is no legal basis to Swift's threat of a lawsuit, largely because Herning's piece is based on opinion, which is protected under the First Amendment. Reputation, Swift's new album, is set to be released November 10.

Taylor Swift's appeal is immediate and broad-reaching, as her multi-platinum music career proves, but there's something about her that makes some people uneasy.

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