ACLU: Taylor Swift refused to respond, she’s ‘full of empty threats’ to critical blogger

3 days until #reputation

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Just before Queen Snake released her album, Reputation, she had to deal with some unfortunate headlines. It seems that Taylor Swift’s legal team sent a threatening letter to a small-time blogger named Meghan Herning. Herning is the editor of PopFront, and Herning had written a critical post about Taylor Swift’s connections to white supremacy and the American neo-Nazi movement. As I’ve said before, much of this neo-Nazi stuff is “put” on Taylor, as in the neo-Nazis claim that Taylor is their Aryan snake queen, their perfect blonde white princess. To be fair, though, Taylor has long-standing problems with race, such as the racial overtones of the Kanye West beef, and using people of color as props in her music videos and in her life.

Anyway, Tay’s legal team sent a threatening letter to Meghan Herning, and I guess they didn’t realize that Herning went to law school and actually understands that Tay’s legal threats were utter bullsh-t. Herning went to the ACLU and the ACLU clapped back hard at Taylor. Herning also gave an interview to Time Magazine where she repeated the central thesis of her original blog post, which was: why is it so g-ddamn difficult for Taylor Swift to say that white supremacy is a bad thing? Why is it so hard for Taylor – at a bare minimum – to simply say “I don’t want the support of neo-Nazis actually”? Well, like most bullies who are called out on their sh-t, Taylor is backing down.

Taylor Swift may have a less litigious reputation now. Swift’s attorneys sent blogger Meghan Herning a cease-and-desist letter last month demanding a retraction after Herning called for Swift, 27, to denounce white supremacy in a feature for PopFront after many white supremacists used her lyrics to spread support for their cause.

Herning received the letter on Oct. 25 demanding that PopFront remove the story Oct. 24 — a day before the letter was dated — and also ordered Herning not to publish said letter, claiming it would constitute copyright infringement.

However, the singer’s lawyers apparently backed off following a response from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who published the letter on Nov. 6 and slammed Swift’s camp in a response for allegedly infringing on Herning’s First Amendment rights.

The ACLU requested a response by Nov. 13, which they claim to never have received.

“The deadline has passed and we have not heard from Ms. Swift or her attorney,” the ACLU’s senior staff attorney Michael Risher said in a statement Thursday. “Their failure to respond shows that the letter to Ms. Herning was full of empty threats and designed to intimidate. We remain concerned about threat letters of this type that effectively discourage people from seeking the legal advice they need to fight back. We encourage anyone who receives them to contact an attorney.”

Neither a representative for Swift nor her attorney immediately returned a request for comment.

[From Page Six]

I truly hope people paid attention to this interlude with Taylor Swift. It’s easy to just look at the headlines about how many units she’s sold or how she sizzles like bacon with Joe Alwyn and not pay attention to these kinds of under-the-radar shenanigans, but they speak volumes about Taylor and about how she operates. She did the only thing she could do in this situation, which was nothing, to go dark and not respond publicly or legally to the ACLU. That says that she would rather do and say nothing and pretend none of this happened, rather than actually coming out and admitting she made a mistake. Or perhaps even coming out and saying “of course I don’t want neo-Nazis to embrace my music.”

@lesdogggg I absolutely adore you 💕💕💕

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Photos courtesy of Instagram.


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102 Responses to “ACLU: Taylor Swift refused to respond, she’s ‘full of empty threats’ to critical blogger”

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  1. Madly says:

    She will do or say whatever for her first love: money. She had her fan base buy multiple albums and already knew she was going to have a “hit” album from her dumb fans (what rational person spends $400 on the same album?!). She had no need to denounce. If this was going to cost her money, she would have done it.

    • QueenB says:

      Looking at the fan side is one thing but I think its super disgusting to make a scheme where you reward people spending so much money on needless crap just so you can get even richer. Especially if you have younger fans. I also think its wrong when old rock bands release their cash grab albums but I feel less bad with a middle age dude spending a bit of his salary than a teenager spending so much. There is also more peer pressure.

      • Madly says:

        Her fan base is like a cult. They say she is always watching on tumblr as she is following so many of those sites devoted to her and contacts her fans on a regular basis. They are encouraged to say positive things about her so she would like their comments. They even have had a campaign to encourage everyone to buy another album. Time did an article on it and praised her for being so savvy. But it is a cult of personality that she is grooming and it is creepy.

      • Radley says:

        It’s horrifying that both showbiz and politics have embraced the tactics of some of the most loathsome people in history for money and power. The cult-like grooming and the disinformation campaigns are appalling. But that’s the normal course of business these days.

        The internet has exacerbated the problem. Now people can be online day and night whipping themselves into a frenzy. Have y’all ever looked at some of these fan blogs? It’s genuinely scary. I’m worried for some of these fan’s mental health.

      • Ava says:

        Oh please.
        They are basically collectors editions of her album. If someone wants to buy all different version and has the money to do so, why not? Are you as critical about people of other Fandoms who spend their money to get 7 different collectors cups, mugs, posters, dolls, …?

  2. MousyB says:

    Didn’t she also send letters to Breitbart and other alt-right blogs?

  3. MissMarierose says:

    What it says is that she is a bully. She tries to threaten people into getting what she wants. Now that the ACLU has made it clear that her threats are empty, she and her legal team are going to find it harder to succeed with this nonsense in the future.

  4. Anne says:

    I kind of read this as the ACLU being really unprofessional. While I totally agree that they should have taken the case and defended the blogger, I disagree with the issuing of this statement, which read as a smug public shaming. You can think what you will about TS, but I thought ACLU’s statement is really, really petty, and a pretty darn personal attack on TS to boot. I expected better of ACLU.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      But isn’t that their goal? To raise awareness? I’m not in the US and I’ve never really dug deep here but I’ve always been under the impression that they’re not like a law firm that operates relatively quietly but that they’re an organization that wants to make noise. Among other things.

    • Nicole says:

      If you’ve followed the ACLU you would know they issue statements all the time. Because they mostly go against systems and people that think they are too big to be taken down by the little people.
      Its not petty to call taylor out for being a bully.

      • Anne says:

        It’s not petty for a person to do so. For example, I am all for the blogger who received the cease and desist letter to issue a statement just like this. However, an organization should not behave like this.

        I’m not from the States, so I’m only semi-familiar with ACLU. But from what I know, their goal is to try to provide a more even legal battleground for those who are less able to afford fancy, expensive attorneys. It is precisely because of their goal that they should refrain from petty, unprofessional statements just like this because their purpose itself gives them the moral high ground. They can in turn use that moral high-ground to benefit their clients. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable for someone to be swayed by, “Oh, this person is represented by X organization, and this organization made it their mission to fight for moral issues. Perhaps I should listen closely to why this organization thought this was worthy of their time.” But reputation like that needs to be actively maintained by proper, professional behaviour. That means, no petty, taunting comments like that.

        If they had to issue a public statement about the situation, they could have gone a more professional route. Something to the effect of, “The case of Ms. Herning’s response to Ms. Swift’s cease and desist letter has come to a halt because Ms. Swift’s attorneys have not responded within the specified time. As a result, we have come to the conclusion that Ms. Swift’s attorneys does not believe there is sufficient legal basis to support their original claim. Furthermore, we believe the original intent was to use the cease and desist letter as a weapon of intimidation. We applaud Ms. Herning’s decision to seek legal representation in this difficult situation and encourage everyone who encounter a similar situation to do the same.”

        Same message, but it sounds different, no?

    • bluhare says:

      How is the ACLU letting us know that Taylor Swift didn’t respond unprofessional? Don’t forget, Taylor Swift started this by siccing her attorneys on this person who dared express her opinion. What I think is interesting is that her attorneys think publishing their threatening letter is copyright infringement.

      Smug public shaming? No. A statement that Swift didn’t follow through after being told she had no case is more like it. Her attorneys knew it too, but they’ll send letters all day long if you pay for them. Taylor started it by trying to shut down a blogger. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

      • Anne says:

        It’s not the FACT that they made the statement that bothered me. It’s the WAY they did it. Their statement is basically a public taunting of “liar liar pants on fire haha I got the better of you so I’m going to rub your nose in it.” The actual bit about encouraging people not not be cowed by intimidation tactics is almost completely lost in the juvenile pettiness of the rest of the statement.

        I believe it’s important for ACLU to issue a statement about this because this is a specific example that can be used to inform the public they should be aware of their rights and seek legal counsel when powerful entities seek to intimidate them through legal channels. But that’s not how I understood the tone of their statement. I read it as, “Taylor Swift lost and we won. We won! She lost! Also, people should always come to lawyers because we’re made of win.” Which I admit, is an exaggeration – but not that much of one, is it? And in my opinion, their statement is neither professional nor serves the purpose it really should, which is to encourage the public to fight for their rights.

      • bluhare says:

        I guess we disagree becauuse I don’t see how this:

        “The deadline has passed and we have not heard from Ms. Swift or her attorney,” the ACLU’s senior staff attorney Michael Risher said in a statement Thursday. “Their failure to respond shows that the letter to Ms. Herning was full of empty threats and designed to intimidate. We remain concerned about threat letters of this type that effectively discourage people from seeking the legal advice they need to fight back. We encourage anyone who receives them to contact an attorney.”

        says “liar liar pants on fire”. It seems quite professionally worded to me.

        Bottom line is if you can’t stand the heat you shouldn’t go in the kitchen.

      • holly hobby says:

        Yep they stated a fact. They sent a letter on this date. Deadline to respond was this date. As of today, there has been no response. If you work in legal these are all factual statements. There legal advice for others in similar circumstances isn’t petty either. If you find yourself on the receiving end, know that they don’t have a legal leg to stand on and you should contact an atty.

        I don’t find anything wrong with what they are saying. If people think that’s shaming the snake, my advice is if you dish it out be prepared to take it.

    • Nicole (the Cdn One) says:


      The ACLU is educating the public about what is and is not a proper legal approach to a matter like this so that some small blogger who may not have a legal background understands they don’t have to cave when they receive a letter like this.

      You don’t have to be quiet and protect a bully’s feelings. If you don’t want to be called a bully, don’t act like one.

    • jes says:

      lol i found them professional, educational and humorous. She’s a bully who started this mess in the first place so no pity for ts from me

    • jetlagged says:

      The statement itself is fine, but the tweet they sent out declaring victory was a little silly. They can’t declare victory just because they haven’t heard a response by a date they themselves set. It’s a meaningless deadline. Swift’s lawyers are under no obligation to respond by some arbitrary date set by the ACLU. Her lawyers can respond any damn time they want to, and they still might. The ACLU should have just issued the statement and left it at that.

      p.s. I’ve given money to the ACLU and support almost everything they do, so this is not me being anti-free speech. This is me rolling my eyes at meaningless PR posturing.

  5. akua says:

    I don’t think she is Nazionale or what whatever they call themselves, but my question why do people want taylorswift to speak on politics. me she doesn’t do anything for me…with her fake feminist but seriously someone should explain, , and please no more kanye…#englishnotmylanguage.

    • Sherry says:

      I think for Taylor Swift, everything is about image. She doesn’t want anyone or anything to tarnish her carefully crafted image.

      I don’t think she needs to come out and say, “Nazis and racists I don’t want you to buy my music!” However, since she’s so controlling about her image, she could arrange an interview with someone like Rolling Stone (or another high profile magazine), give a series of pre-selected questions to the interviewer regarding this topic and give an on-the-record response that is carefully crafted to answer the criticism and let people know she does not support racism/misogyny/Nazis/white supremacists. If I were on her management team, that is how I would approach this topic.

      As it is, her silence is deafening in it’s volume.

    • Louise177 says:

      I don’t think anybody expects or demands Taylor to talk about politics. But in my opinion Nazis and racism is completely different. Most people quickly release a statement that they don’t support the far right and Nazis yet Taylor can’t be bothered to say anything. That says a lot about her. Either she shares their beliefs or she cares so much about money and popularity that she doesn’t want to offend anyone even if they are Nazis. Plus she has a history of getting somewhat only when it effects her directly.

    • OG OhDear says:

      Speaking against a group that considers itself superior to others because of race is not political, it’s basic decency.

      • it is cool says:

        this. Being a decent person isn’t political.

      • Fleurucci says:

        True but she has never been misquoted saying she is a nazi sympathizer or rumoured to attend anything white supremacist , so there’s nothing to clear up . It’s just BS spouted by people she’s not affiliated with. Robert patison doesn’t regularly clear up the “robsten is unbroken” BS (neither does KS, and see Lainey if you don’t know what this is.)
        George Clooney never confronts the rumours that he is gay (I’m sure people have said it in these comments, no?) TS also doesn’t mention the rumours that she is gay.

        Here’s a conspiracy theory: if she confirms that she’s not a white supremacist ally, despite that there was never anyevidence that she is, would that make it more jarring that she never confirms she wasn’t/isn’t romanticallly with karlie kloss?
        Someone here in the last few months was swearing they were a couple saying she’s worked for TS

    • Nick says:

      Speaking. Out. Against. Nazis. Is. NOT. Politics. It’s common sense and people have been doing it in the US since 1941 without it negatively affecting their image or reputation.

    • Moon Beam says:

      She can be apolitical all she wants, but the Nazis aren’t a political party in America in 2017 (well…) so by her saying “hey white supremacists and Neo Nazis, I am not your poster girl and do not support you. Her silence is getting beyond ridiculous now.

  6. Hh says:

    I used to simply “not care for” Taylor Swift, because despite my dislike she seemed harmless. However, after the Great Reveal of 2016 (lol), I feel like I have a disdain for her. What she did to Kanye West was not simply payback for the MTV awards (which would have been bad itself because if you decide to forgive and be friends then that’s what you should do), but it was playing on the worst racial stereotypes. Innocent, white girl being violated by the dangerous, black man. If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2016/7 is that those tropes have serious consequences and people still very much play into—and believe—them (coded or not). Swift’s antics/attitude are no longer harmless to me. They’re dangerous. Taylor will use race for gain IF she needs to—and in multiple ways. But glad she found a black friend to pose with after this racially charged debacle. A black woman who was attacked by racist trolls and driven off twitter for a time. The least you could do is denounce those very same trolls.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      “If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2016/7 is that those tropes have serious consequences and people still very much play into—and believe—them (coded or not).” Absolutely. You see it all the time on MSN comment sections for example.

  7. Nicole says:

    Surprise surprise taylor the snake bully backs down. Because she knows shes full of it
    She’s such a Regina George its ridiculous.
    I’m also happy that she didn’t manage to beat Adele’s record even with people buying 3 units or more.

  8. Char says:

    Taylor is obviously not a Nazi cause she takes pictures with her black friends.

  9. Towelie says:

    She’s an asshole. I think she’s going to find it’s harder to get away with things going forward, and that’s a good thing. I remember in the vogue 73 questions interview she did, they asked her what advice she’d have for a young musician. She said to ‘get a lawyer.’ They can’t fix everything, no matter how much you pay them Tay Tay.

  10. Radley says:

    A big problem with Taylor is that there’s no there there, imo. She’s a self centered woman who got into showbiz pretty young. She’s stunted. Her team is all about the money while she goes through the motions of trying to appear “normal” so that nobody knows she’s yet another damaged child star.

    What she needed is a two or three year break to hopefully evolve rather than continuing to be the flesh bot fronting this ruthless money machine. She’s not doing herself any favors by cozying up to Deplorables. It’s not worth it.

  11. Clare says:

    I hope the ACLU, the blogger in question and the blogosphere in general don’t just let this go. Keep reminding us. Every time you mention he record sales, remind us that she tried to bully a blogger and impede on free speech, instead of distancing herself from white supremacists. I know that sounds extreme and maybe even petty – but F these people. F these people looking the other way as long as they’re making $$. And definitely F them throwing their cash around to bully people.

  12. Jamie42 says:

    I have no love for Taylor Swift, particularly in regard to this issue.
    But let’s also admit that bloggers can be grossly irresponsible too, and many are, because they know that the first amendment protects any damn thing they want to say.
    What they say then gets picked up by other bloggers or tweeters and is circulated as fact.

    • Shijel says:

      Such is the risk one takes when they dabble in fame, riches and power. People will always talk, and a celeb’s job is to make sure that they have nothing to talk about, and shut down libel and slander with facts, not threats.

      I shed no tears for a filthy rich, famous, beautiful white woman whose behaviour has been consistently shady.

      Did she ever even as much as apologise to Ally Burguieres? I think Swift’s camp just tried to quietly buy Burguieres’ silence and bully her into compliance? Unless there have been new developments, but it sure as hell sounds like Tay’s and her team’s M.O.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      “What they say then gets picked up by other bloggers or tweeters and is circulated as fact.” There are some cases where that’s a real problem (and I find myself wishing that certain groups of celebrities would come out against those people hard, even though I get why they don’t). But like both of you, I don’t feel sorry for her in this situation. She could have chosen to woman up and make an important statement, but she did the opposite. The possible motives behind why she handled the situation this way are… not good.

    • Scout says:

      Bloggers being “gross” does not equate to them committing a crime, which is the issue at hand. Taylor didn’t like what someone said about her so she threw a tantrum and had her lawyers attempt to deny someone their constitutional rights.

    • mechalia says:

      @ Jamie42
      Swiftie commenter 101:

      “I’m no Taylor Swift fan, but [insert opinion defending poor swift who, actually, you're a huge fan of but don't want people to think you are biased so you write you're not]”

      Ugh, the worst fandom out there.

  13. HelloSunshine says:

    I wonder if her team will slow down on sending letters to people now. The ACLU putting this out there is hopefully a show of force and encourages people to come to them if she does it again. Just because someone writes something critical about you doesn’t mean you get to tell them to shut up. This isn’t high school. I used to defend TS but I can’t anymore. Clearly having the support of nazis is more important than the minorities that listen to her white girl pop (she was my go to fix for basic, easy listening pop).

  14. ariel says:

    The ACLU is amazing.
    They defend the poor, the underrepresented, the people who don’t know their rights.
    The ACLU stands up to bullying blond singers, as well to our bully president, elected by 60,000,000, who is trying to dismantle our ethics laws, our judiciary and our Constitution at an alarming rate.
    The ACLU may save us all.
    I don’t have a lot of money, but every month, I donate a measly $20 to the ACLU.
    Please consider donating.

    • mechalia says:

      in the comments above there are Swift fans calling the ACLU “unfair” and a “bully” – it’s hilarious, they are playing the poor-taylor-victim card against an organization that literally EXISTS to fight for the underrepresented and bullied and victimized. I mean….how dumb do you have to be as a Swift fan to diss the ACLU?

  15. Monsy says:

    i find amusing the stories about how in love she’s with the new guy, how passionate and perfect her new relationship is and how insanely gorgeous (?) her boyfriend is. It’s the same story with every new boyfriend but i get it, self promotion and all that.

    But what i find very troublling is how she deals with race issues. The Nicki Minaj comment, the Kanye West mess, the fact she has refused to publicly condemn supremacists now when she’s been critized for all this, she pulls the ” i have a black friend card” posting a pic with a woman that she claims to adore that was mercyless attacked by the same white supremacist she refuses to publicly condemn.

    i just don’t get it. why?

  16. DiligentDiva says:

    She would have such potential if she grew up a little

  17. mondays says:

    I’m a terrible person, but her left eye in the Instagram picture creeps me out

  18. Annabelle Bronstein says:

    Taylor should probably just pull an Angelina Jolie, say her legal team was overzealous in defending her, and apologize to the blogger.

  19. meeem says:

    “Taylor has long-standing problems with race, such as the racial overtones of the Kanye West beef, and using people of color as props in her music videos and in her life.”

    Really? Really. I don’t love all of Taylor’s decisions, especially in the last year, but this is ridiculous. If she did not have people of different ethnicities in her videos, people would bitch at her for whitewashing, when she does have a diverse group, people say she’s using people as props. The girl can’t win. People want to hate on her and will find any reason they can.

    • ira says:

      I think many people in this thread already explained it very well why Taylor is problematic in regards with race issue. I only recall one occasion though, it was when her MV director Joseph Khan defended her during receipt gate by tweeting “Ain’t the first time the Kardashians supported the murder of an innocent blonde woman” did nothing to denounce it.

      • jetlagged says:

        Did nothing to denounce it, and has worked with him on at least three other music videos since that tweet. I remember thinking at the time he went way too far and if she continued to work with him it would be a tacit endorsement. The other moment that crossed the line for me was the statement her team made about the whole Kanye mess. While not overtly racist, it was so chock full of really awful dogwhistle comments that it made me a little sick to my stomach if I’m honest.

        We have ample evidence that Taylor sees everything that is said about her and on her behalf, and is not at all reticent about telling people to cease and desist if she doesn’t like what they say. I’m assuming the official statement was run by her before it was issued and Kahn still appears to be in her good graces, so I can only assume that she not only doesn’t mind those things were said in her defense, but in some small way she also agrees with them.

    • Scout says:

      Stop infantilizing her by calling a grown woman a “girl” – she may have the maturity of a 15 year old but she is a grown woman who has been making grown woman decisions for years now and one of those decisions was to posit her purity/innocence against an “angry black man” trope. She wrote an ENTIRE SONG about Kanye that she titled “Innocent” and performed the horrible song while wearing all white and broadcasting him interrupting her speech. Whenever Taylor does something right she’s a smart and savvy businesswoman genius but once she is faced with criticism she’s just a “girl” – RME.

      • vergeofnothing says:

        Dude, the ‘innocent’ in that song *is* Kanye. I can’t believe I’m analyzing Taylor Swift lyrics on the internet, but I guess this is where I am now. I’ve put the lyrics of the song, per Genius, below. Was Taylor Swift 32 at the VMA thing? No. Kanye was. Literally the whole point of the song is Taylor Swift saying it’s ok that you messed up, Kanye, you’re still an innocent, everyone of us has messed up too. Taylor Swift has plenty of problematic racial stuff in her life (hi Wildest Dreams video), but I do not think ‘Kanye is a mean aggressive black man going after innocent white girls’ is in any way a reasonable interpretation of that song. If anything, the song can be criticized as saccharine and Pollyannaish.

        “It’s alright, just wait and see
        Your string of lights is still bright to me
        Oh who you are is not where you’ve been
        You’re still an innocent
        It’s okay, life is a tough crowd
        32, and still growing up now
        Who you are is not what you did
        You’re still an innocent

        Time turns flames to embers
        You’ll have new Septembers
        Every one of us has messed up too
        Lives change like the weather
        I hope you remember
        Today is never too late to be brand new”

      • meeem says:

        Umm. I’m older than Taylor and call myself a girl and everyone in my age bracket girl/boy. And so do a lot of other people. It isn’t infantalizing.

      • meeem says:

        also I’m pretty sure Swift has never called on the “angry black man” trope? Other people have assigned that to the situation. Pretty sure she would be doing the same thing (and the same mistakes – she really should have just apologized last year) had it been ANY man. Really, she called on the male vs female trope if anything.

  20. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Taylor is the Donald Trump of music. That is all.

  21. Cranberry says:

    I just discovered Poppy on Youtube. She is the answer to empty headed Swift. She has all these “I’m Poppy” video snippets that are cute and strange. She also has her music videos on YT that are pretty good pop songs. Poppy has announced dates for her up coming tour.

    I really like her song, “Interweb”:

  22. Spritely says:

    She’s bitten off more than she can chew with this. Her opportunism will affect her career sooner or later. I can’t believe her people aren’t advising her properly – especially given the recent Weinstein earthquakes. At a pragmatic level, times are changing and you’d better be able to see 20 years ahead. Her career or image will be affected by this sooner or later, more or less.