After a story was released on PopFront, an online political magazine, claiming that Taylor Swift and her music promote white supremacy, Swift’s legal team sent the magazine’s editor, Meghan Herning, a cease and desist letter, which threatened a lawsuit if the article was not taken down. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) then sent Swift and her team a letter, which said that the article would not be taken down and that Swift and her team were infringing upon PopFront’s freedom of speech.
Now, let’s break this down. The story on PopFront titled “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation” provides criticism of Swift through its political commentary. The article suggests that white supremacists are influenced by Swift.
The article in part reads “the idea that Taylor Swift is an icon of white supremacists, nationalists, and other fringe groups, seems to finally be getting mainstream attention.” The article compares Swift to Adolf Hitler and calls her a Trump supporter.
It also analyzes some of her song lyrics in a way that can be used as argument that connect and resonate with whites. The article goes on to argue that Swift’s lyrics validate the opinions and stances of “angry white people about a black president” and that “these lyrics became the voice of the lower case kkk.”
A month after this story was posted, Herning received the cease and desist letter from Swift and her legal team demanded “that PopFront immediately issue a retraction of a provably false and defamatory story about Ms. Swift.” The letter explained all the falsehoods that Swift and her team alleged were imbedded in the story posted, explaining that the story was responsible for the defamation of Swift’s reputation.
The letter threatened PopFront with a lawsuit if the story was not removed. It provided a list of steps that the online magazine needed to take in order to meet their requests. The letter said, “Should PopFront not immediately take these steps, Ms. Swift is prepared to proceed with litigation.”
When Herning received this letter, she reached out to the ACLU, who then sent a letter to Swift and her team. “Ms. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech,” the letter stated. It went on to say that the story commented on current politics and the rise of white supremacy. The letter went on to say “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.” It still unclear if legal action will be taken on either side.