Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are squaring off after the publication of an article linking Swift to the KKK and alt-right movement. The article, titled “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation,” was written by Meghan Herning and published on the blog PopFront on September 5. The site’s Twitter account only has 226 followers, and its Facebook page has just over 1,100 likes.
The article behind the Taylor Swift ACLU battle
Herning suggests that white supremacists co-opting Swift’s music as a message of support for their beliefs is not an accident. The article claims that Swift’s silence on political matters is a statement, and Herning calls upon her to formally denounce white supremacy.
The article then goes on to suggest that lyrics from Swift’s songs and imagery from her videos are meant to embolden racists.
“Taylor’s lyrics in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ seem to play to the same subtle, quiet white support of a racial hierarchy. Many on the alt-right see the song as part of a ‘re-awakening,’ in line with Trump’s rise,” the article states. “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.”
Considering how small their audience is, we doubt that many people read the post when it was published, but something struck a chord with Swift. Her lawyer responded with a strongly-worded demand that PopFront retract the post.
The Taylor Swift ACLU battle heats up
On October 25, Herning received a letter from Swift’s attorneys demanding that the website issue a retraction and take the article down immediately, threatening a lawsuit if they did not remove it by October 24, one day before the letter was dated.
According to Variety, Herning contacted the ACLU and on Monday the group sent a letter of its own (which you can find on the ACLU’s website) arguing that Swift’s request is a violation of the First Amendment.
“Ms. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech,” the ACLU’s letter. “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.”
The ACLU has some sort of warped sense of humor, too. At one point in their six-page response to Swift’s attorney, they throw Swift’s own lyrics from “Shake It Off” back at her, writing, “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.”
The ACLU said Swift and her legal team have until November 13, three days after her new album Reputation drops, to decide if they’re planning to move forward with litigation or not. We’ll have to wait until then to see what becomes of the Taylor Swift ACLU fight.