Taylor Swift has been slammed by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyers after issuing a legal threat to a blogger.
In a think-piece on culture, politics and activism website PopFront, editor Meghan Herning called on the 27-year-old singer, who rarely comments publicly on politics, to speak out against white supremacists as some have tried to adopt the singer as an icon.
Her article included a critical interpretation of Swift’s lyrics, and criticised the singer for failing to join other prominent popstars in campaigning for Hillary Clinton against U.S. President Donald Trump, who received the backing of white supremacist leaders.
Last month (Oct17) Herning received a letter from Swift’s lawyer William J. Briggs, II, demanding the story’s removal from all media as it was defamatory and threatening legal action if the blogger failed to do so.
In a statement ACLU lawyer Matt Cagle denounced the letter as an attack on the writer’s right to free speech under the U.S. constitution.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable,” he said. “Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”
The ACLU is demanding Swift and her lawyer confirm they will not pursue legal action by 13 November (17).
Herning also accused the singer of using aggressive legal tactics to shut down negative stories in the past.
“The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon,” she said. “These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down.”
In his letter the Shake It Off singer’s lawyer wrote that Herning’s ascription of political beliefs to Swift constituted defamation and pointed to a Huffington Post article containing a past legal statement denouncing social media users who associated her with Adolf Hitler.
Although Swift does not comment publicly on politics, in a 2009 Rolling Stone interview she hinted she’d backed Barack Obama in the previous election, saying she was “glad” she was a first-time voter when he emerged victorious.