Swift justice

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2024

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Look, how can I not write about Taylor Swift this week? Or rather, the cyclone of coverage that swirls around her every move?

No, I’m not going to muse about the ballyhoo around whether or not anyone wants to see her for 3-second cutaways during NFL games, when her beau, Travis Kelce, makes a play. 

And I’m certainly not going to address the conspiracy lunacy regarding her and Kelce’s political motivations.

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Instead, I’m going to write about pornography. 

What?? Hey, wait a minute, Stone, this is a family paper!

Stay with me because all of us have good reason to embrace and thank Swift for the sake of every daughter, mother and wife we know—and, heck yeah, boys and men too.

You will have probably read and/or heard the vulgar news that someone, obviously with misogynistic intent, used software to forge digital, ‘deep fake’ pornographic images of Swift that were uploaded to X (formerly Twitter) and viewed by tens of millions around the globe. Clearly, an attempt to publicly humiliate her and punish her for having a boyfriend that she wants to support during the most important games of the season. 

And this hasn’t just happened to Swift. Weeks ago it happened to half a dozen schoolgirls by male classmates in New Jersey and again by a male student in Washington. What was most devastating was the reaction of parents from some of the perpetrators who shrugged their reply of “Boys will be boys.”

But Taylor, reportedly and understandably outraged by the images (she has never even shown her belly button on stage), will at least see a positive outcome after a bipartisan group of senators recognized from her experience the potential harm to every American through AI.

The result? The Disruption Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edit Acts of 2024. This bill was introduced last Tuesday and, if passed, would criminalize the spread of nonconsensual, sexualized images created by artificial intelligence. It would give victims the right to seek a civil penalty—a financial penalty imposed by a government agency as restitution for wrongdoing—against “individuals who produced or possessed the forgery with intent to distribute” or anyone who is on the receiving end of the content, knowing it was done without the victim’s consent. Disappointingly, a civil penalty does not carry jail time, but it is a solid first step toward the protection of women. US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban, Lindsey Graham, Amy Klobuchar and Josh Hawley are behind the bill, and that says something right there.

Whether or not you are a ‘Swifty,’ it cannot be denied that this young woman has been able to achieve what most can’t: get Congress to work together.