Weary of simple pop music spats, Taylor Swift now has a new feuding partner: the ACLU.
The singer has landed in the watchdog organization’s crosshairs after her lawyer sent an intimidating letter to the website PopFront regarding a recent article about Swift’s popularity among white supremacists.
In a piece titled, “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation,” writer Meghan Herning argues that Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do” serves as a “subtle, quiet white support of a racial hierarchy” by positioning the singer alongside the history of the eugenics movement and the rise of neo-Nazis.
William J. Briggs, a lawyer representing Swift, wrote in a letter to Herning that her PopFront article is a “provably false and defamatory story” that will result in a lawsuit if the website refuses to issue a retraction or take down the post.
“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,” Briggs wrote.
The letter also defends Swift’s political silence in the last presidential election as a personal choice, as she has “no obligation to campaign for any particular political candidate or broadcast her political views.”
Herning shared the letter with the ACLU, which is now defending the blogger against any legal threats against her, calling Briggs’ claims “meritless.” In the eyes of the organization, the article is a “mix of political speech and critical commentary” that falls within the protections of the First Amendment.
“This is a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech,” Michael Risher, an attorney for ACLU of Northern California, said in a press release.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable,” Matt Cagle, another attorney with the organization, added. “Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”
Swift has taken legal action against claims of this nature before. The singer has been heralded as a white supremacist hero in the dark corners of the internet by those who’ve described the pop star as an “Aryan goddess.” (Breitbart, a website that has offered a platform for alt-right views, tweeting out the lyrics to her new single certainly didn’t help.)
Swift has yet to respond to the ACLU’s letter, as well as HuffPost’s request for comment.