Sorry, girl — but nobody made you do this. Taylor Swift’s legal team has been working overtime. Days before the Nov. 10 release of her album Reputation, her attorneys sent a letter demanding a retraction and threatening to sue PopFront, a little-known culture blog with only 78 Twitter followers (!), after it posted a piece on how some white supremacists have embraced Taylor.
The American Civil Liberties Union jumped into the fray on behalf of the blog, accusing Taylor of trying to suppress free speech and bully the press. Then, on Nov. 7, high-profile blogger Perez Hilton revealed he’d received a “take-down notice” from Taylor’s attorneys after he posted a photo of the album’s top-secret track list. When he didn’t comply, Perez tells Life & Style, “My Twitter account was suspended.”
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Taylor won near-universal praise this summer for successfully suing a radio DJ who groped her during a 2013 photo op. But this time her legal tactics have some claiming she’s gone way too far in using lawyers to cow others. “The effect of her actions is to intimidate critics from expressing opinions she doesn’t like,” Christine Sun, legal director for the ACLU of Northern California, tells Life & Style. “It appears she’s hoping folks won’t express these views in the first place. I hope as an artist she would see why free speech is important.”
It’s understandable that Taylor, 27, would be upset by the PopFront piece, though. The September post by Meghan Herning claims the lyrics to “Look What You Made Me Do” show a “subtle...support of a racial hierarchy” and even claims the video echoes Nazi imagery. In a cease-and-desist letter sent to PopFront in late October, Taylor’s legal team called the post “provably false and defamatory.”
Taylor’s reputation, explains a source, “is everything to her, so she is on constant high alert that someone will make her look bad. [As a result], she’s oversensitive to anyone who criticizes her.” The ACLU struck back, branding her legal letter an “unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech.” Added Herning: “The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon.”
Taylor’s not about to apologize. The singer has donated millions of dollars to food banks, charities supporting victims of natural disasters and organizations that help sex-abuse victims, among others — without seeking publicity. So seeing her reputation possibly harmed is painful. “She will do anything,” the source says, “to protect her persona.”
Going after Perez was different. She’s had a plan for every aspect of her album release and didn’t want him to throw it off. “She’s being super-guarded and protective with herself and her product, and that’s her prerogative,” Perez tells Life & Style. “I don’t agree with that strategy.” But it’s her style. “Some friends feel like Taylor really just needs to let these thing go,” says the source. “But they know deep down she can’t do it.”
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