Blog­ger’s dis­pute with Taylor Swift goes vi­ral

Lodi News-Sentinel - - State/Nation - By Deb­bie Ar­ring­ton

When Bay Area blog­ger Meghan Hern­ing wrote a post crit­i­cal of pop diva Taylor Swift, she never ex­pected to be threat­ened with a law­suit.

In­stead of si­lenc­ing a critic, the re­ac­tion by Swift’s le­gal team to Hern­ing’s blog post — ques­tion­ing the singer’s ap­peal to white su­prem­a­cists — has made the dis­pute go vi­ral the same week that Swift’s new album, “Reputation,” is set to de­but.

“It’s laugh­able be­cause it’s so crazy,” said Hern­ing, a re­cent law school grad­u­ate and en­tre­pre­neur.

Mon­day, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia took up Hern­ing’s case and gave the singer’s lawyers one week to re­spond.

“I find out next week if I passed the bar (exam) — the same week Taylor might sue me,” Hern­ing said Wed­nes­day.

At the cen­ter of the dis­pute is Hern­ing’s blog post, “Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor sub­tly gets the lower case kkk in for­ma­tion,” pub­lished Sept. 5 on PopFront, a tiny on­line mag­a­zine based in the Bay Area that Hern­ing started in 2014 with col­lege friends.

“We didn’t cre­ate the web­site with in­tent to be large,” Hern­ing said. “It was just for us (blog­gers) and friends. We had a very small pres­ence when this all started.

“In the last 24 hours, we’ve got­ten more than 100,000 clicks (on the story),” she added. “I went from 76 Twit­ter fol­low­ers to 150,000.”

Writ­ten af­ter white su­prem­a­cists ral­lied in Char­lottesville, Va., Hern­ing’s blog post ques­tioned Swift’s ap­peal to neo-Nazis. She cited how the far-right Bre­it­bart News Net­work em­braced Swift’s lyrics and won­dered why Swift had not more pub­licly dis­avowed that au­di­ence.

The lyrics in Swift’s hit song “Look What You Made Me Do” are vague and open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion: “I don’t like your king­dom keys. They once be­longed to me . ... But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time.”

Re­views of the song’s video noted its many in­sider ref­er­ences to Swift’s ca­reer and re­la­tion­ships. There is no men­tion of race or pol­i­tics in the lyrics. But in Hern­ing’s view, they con­tain a hid­den mean­ing.

“Taylor’s lyrics in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ seem to play to the same sub­tle, quiet white sup­port of a racial hi­er­ar­chy,” Hern­ing wrote. “Many on the alt-right see the song as part of a ‘re-awak­en­ing,’ in line with (Don­ald) Trump’s rise . ... (Swift) is giv­ing sup­port to the white na­tion­al­ist move­ments through lyrics that speak to their anger, en­ti­tle­ment and self­ish­ness.”

Fewer than 200 peo­ple prob­a­bly saw the orig­i­nal post, es­ti­mated Hern­ing. It was only her sec­ond post this year.

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