I was dumbfounded, not very shocked honestly. Another negative headline about Taylor Swift? Hmmm, what is it this time?
Taylor Swift is threatening to sue a blogger for defamation after the blogger had made a post about Swift being a sympathizer to white supremacy causes like the KKK through her music. It is important to note that the blogger had less a hundred followers and was not very well known. Well, not until this story blew up. The ACLU ended defending the blogger and threatened to sue Ms. Swift if she chose to pursue this case.
I will be honest. I am not a huge fan of Ms. Swift or her so-called embrace of feminism. I find her to be a hypocrite for a variety of reasons and her brand as a feminist is one of them. Her brand has been more divisive than collective and her “squad” is essentially a group of White elitist women who attack anyone who has a constructive criticism against Ms. Swift. This white elitist “squad” is the very essence of why the women’s movement/feminism of the second wave failed at being inclusive of women of color, poor women, etc.. Although I respect her business savvy, she and her management’s relentless attempts at copyright strikes inflicted on people who remotely have more than a few seconds of Swift’s content, usually find their work being removed or demonetized. This strikes a chord with me that Swift does not actually respect freedom or free speech. Now that may have been a scathing and biased review of Swift and I do think that she is a very philanthropic woman, but I do not think any of this excuses her actions and continuous disregard for others to pursue free speech in America. Her decision to send a cease and desist letter backfired and only led to criticism and a harsher view of Swift than she has already been subjected to in the past few years.
According to the blog post,“Swift is the icon of white supremacist, nationalists, and other fringe groups” (Rosenblatt). It is important to note that it is ridiculous to say that Taylor Swift is a white supremacist but the ability to say it should be protected.The ACLU deserves respect for standing up to Ms. Swift and her team of lawyers. Blogs like these should be able to invoke criticism of public figures and public officials freely without the fear of being sued for defamation. First of all, celebrities have access to news organizations and platforms of greater audiences to use and to clear their name. Ms. Swift is a very credible figure and if she thought this was damaging her reputation she could have used a variety of mediums like Twitter to address her concerns and it would have been widely covered by the media. In addition, the ACLU believes that Ms. Swift was using “intimidation tactics” to “suppress speech.” These intimidation tactics by her lawyer were in fact in breach of a constitutional law. Blog posts are a medium of free speech. One should be allowed to talk about popular culture and issues they may have with certain public figures that they disagree with and the fear of suppression is in opposition to the values of free press and speech. As the ACLU cleverly put it, “Criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off, even if the critique may damage her reputation” (Rosenblatt). Ms. Swift should indeed “shake it off” and leave free press and speech where it should be.