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Is there any celebrity more careful about her reputation than Taylor Swift? Even as she begins to change her image from the good wholesome girl that many have come to love to the bad girl that she thinks she is in her head, Taylor wants to control what the press says about her. Such is the case with the burgeoning feud Swift has with blogger Meghan Herning. The issue is that with the internet and bloggers becoming more of the mainstream media, Taylor can't control things the way she used to.
What did Meghan Herning write that has the new "badass" Taylor Swift all upset? In a post called “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation,” for PopFront, Herning called for Swift to denounce the alt-right and the KKK. Herning went as far to say that Swift's silence was essentially an endorsement of the racist actions of the groups. This statement came because those groups had used Swift's music to support their message of hate.
Before we go on, can we all just say it's very telling of Taylor Swift's beliefs that she went after the blogger who criticized her and not hate groups that are killing many people? Sounds a little Trump-ian, doesn't it? Go after those you disagree with or who don't say what you want them to but let the problem of the hatred go on using your music. Seems like an excellent way to show your fanbase where you stand.
As you may have guessed from the clues above, Taylor Swift sent her legal team after Meghan Herning and not the alt-right group nor the KKK. Swift's legal team sent a letter demanding that Herning post a retraction if she didn't then legal action would be taken. Instead of bowing down to the pressure of the army of lawyers that Swift employs, Herning talked to her lawyer and the ACLU. They fired back with a legal letter of their own saying that Swift had no legal recourse because the piece was a matter of opinion and not presented as fact. Sort of like the essay you're reading right now.
In English class, we are taught to argue by using facts, to frame our argument around the facts as they are presented to us. Some will reframe the facts to make their argument. In the case of Herning, she made a point of saying that these groups were using Swift's music (fact) and without the pop star denouncing that action, it made it seem like she endorsed the views of the hate groups (opinion). For someone who is so worried about her reputation and public image, it is surprising that Swift was largely silent on the issue. It was nice during the election to have one singer not get political, but when she was tossed into the mix, which she was when her music was being co-opted by the alt-right, it was her duty to say something. Playing both sides by being silent is not OK. In fact, it is more dangerous for a pop star of Taylor Swift's stature to say nothing because it gives the message to others that it is normal to hate and conduct these violent atrocities. Silence is telling.
Right after they took up Herning's cause, the ACLU shot a letter back to Swift's legal team letting them know that they should stop reading the song lyrics of their most prominent client and start reading the Constitution. Since the Herning piece was written as an opinion, it is covered under the First Amendment (Drats, don't you hate when you threaten legal action and don't have a case?) and they need to send another letter to Herning letting her know that they won't be trying any funny business.
It sucks when you get a bad review, or someone writes something unflattering about you. But we need Taylor Swift to look at Britney Spears to learn how to handle it. Britney went through Hell and back with the press, and she never threatened to sue someone over the press coverage. You know what she did? She recorded "Piece of Me" and went on to make millions of dollars off of that song. Something that Swift is good at doing. She has built her entire career off of writing songs about those who have wronged her. And no, that is not my opinion.