ACLU Blasts Taylor Swift's Attempt to Silence Critic

'Shake it off,' group says after lawsuit threat
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2017 3:03 AM CST
ACLU Blasts Swift's Attempt to Silence Critic
Taylor Swift performs in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2017.   (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

A Sept. 5 blog post on PopFront took Taylor Swift to task for not taking a stand against the white supremacists twisting her music to promote their cause, noting her silence was akin to support. Swift's response has only drawn more reproach. In what an ACLU lawyer calls "a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech," Swift's lawyer threatened a lawsuit on Oct. 25 if Meghan Herning's "defamatory" piece wasn’t removed, report Variety and NPR. But as criticism of a public figure, especially opinion, is protected by free speech, Herning wasn't intimidated. Rather than remove the article, she contacted the ACLU, which notes "not even in your wildest dreams" does Herning's commentary "constitute defamation."

"Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation," continues the ACLU, taking up Swift's own lyrics against her. The civil liberties group also published the letter Swift's lawyer sent to PopFront—which included a denunciation of white supremacy—despite the lawyer's claim that it was protected from publication by copyright law. It is not because "this is not a commercial use," says the ACLU. "I am not backing down," adds Herning, per Variety. "The press should not be bullied ... or frightened into submission." While Swift's camp has yet to respond, the Washington Post notes celebrities often send cease-and-desist orders in an attempt to erase negative stories even when there's little chance of winning a defamation suit. (More Taylor Swift stories.)

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