The ACLU might be busy lately, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have time for Taylor Swift.
The Northern California branch of the non-profit organization came to the defense of a critic for PopFront Magazine after the online publication received a letter demanding retraction and removal of a post that criticized the singer.
The original post —”Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation“—explores the suggested connection between white supremacy, Swift’s music, and her very vague politician affiliation leading up to the 2016 presidential election. It’s a topic that has been explored in the past by several outlets whose articles are still online.
“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 reads. At another point, the author addresses the fact that “there is no way to know for sure if Taylor is a Trump supporter or identifies with the white nationalist message, but her silence has not gone unnoticed.”
The letter from Swift’s lawyers called this particular post a “malicious attack” against Swift “that goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead,” and demanded PopFront remove the post by Tuesday, Oct. 24, or possibly face further legal action from Swift.
“One thing is certain: you are requiring Ms. Swift, but not any other celebrity or musician, to loudly denounce white supremacy and you do not accept her previous condemnations as good enough. Given your apparent animus and malice toward Ms. Swift, the intent to cause harm to Ms. Swift is clear,” the letter reads. It’s worth noting that many celebrities have denounced white supremacy publicly.
In response, PopFront has clarified that they will not be retracting the post.
“At a time when the press is under constant attack from the highest branches of government, this cease and desist letter is far more insidious than Swift and her lawyer may understand,” the online magazine wrote in an official statement.
“The press should not be bullied by legal action nor frightened into submission from covering any subject it chooses. Swift’s scare tactics may have worked in the past, but PopFront refuses to back down because we believe the First Amendment is more important than preserving a celebrity’s public image,” the statement continues.
In the midst of accusing Swift of suppressing free speech, the ACLU—who has publicized a letter sent to Swift’s legal team—had fun inserting her song titles in its responses.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable. Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech,” ACLU attorney Matt Cagle said in a press release. “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation.”
Speaking of damaging a reputation, this all comes at a horrible time for Swift. Her album Reputation is set to be released at the end of this week.