Friday, March 4, 2022

KY: The Panic Comes For Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is a national damn treasure, but one Kentucky state senator had the guts, briefly, to express concern about Parton's signature philanthropic effort being a piece of the Great Indoctrinatin' going on in America.

Stephen Meredith was a hospital CEO before being elected to Kentucky's senate in 2017. Wednesday he was in committee discussing SB 164, a bill for creating a state partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, one of the best examples of thoughtful, useful, not-trying-to-take-over-a-government function philanthropy you'll find. The Imagination Library puts books in the hands of children 0-5. Once a month, a free book arrives addressed to your child. The Board of Directors has been signed up since birth; the books are wonderfully curated, selected for age appropriateness and an absolute model of blending classic and new and diverse books. It is literally one of the best things a wealthy person has ever done.

But Wednesday, Meredith had some concerns. Noting that the bill had "age appropriate" in the language, he wondered "if that shouldn't include subject appropriate as well"... "given today's environment."

Sigh. Okay, I don't know Meredith, so maybe what he meant to suggest is that they needed to head off crazy-pants CRT/LGBTQ protestors so they wouldn't descend upon the bill. But he did note that he's heard about "inappropriate literature" given to pre-schoolers. And he also notes that "players change over the course of time, and things get shifted," so I guess he's worried that Indoctrinators might somehow take over Parton's program.

Stella Parton, Dolly's sister, was having none of it, and on Thursday morning she was on Twitter calling him out:

I'm outraged this morning that anyone, let alone a GOP Sen. Meredith from the grat state of Ky. Would question my sister Doly or even insinuate something sinister about the "Imagination Library" for children. Appalachian people have been maligned as uneducated and to have a Senator from Appalachia state even think this much less say anything derogatory about this incredible program is an outrage!! I would like to see your IQ score Sen. Meredith along with at least a dozen more of you GOP nimrods. The next you know, you will be trying to burn children's books.

Most new outlets have edited her response down a bit. As you can see, she was pretty pissed. She also accused him of using the phrase "indoctrinate the children," which he didn't. The whole blow-up was enough to make Dolly Parton trend on Twitter Thursday.

Meredith told a news reporter, "I'm disappointed, but you know, that's social media today." In the end, he did vote for the bill.

If nothing else, the flap suggests that there are limits to what folks can say in their pursuit of anti-indoctrinatin'.


  1. Are you trying to be cute with your last sentence? Is this a way to sound like you have a special affection for the people of East Tennessee? I lived there for 15 years ..I organized internships for foreign students to work at Dollywood. Sometimes it isn't clear what northerners mean when they feign southern accents.

    This is the age of calling everyone out for everything. Just a thought.

    1. I regularly refer to so-called indoctrination as "indoctrinatin'" whether I'm writing about Southerners or not.

  2. Stephen Meredith is a Fox ditto head, not because he is from a southern state. He is a right wing religious ideologue which precludes discerning thought.
    Meredith's government site identifies him as Knights of Columbus, a group that under Carl Anderson's leadership became political. Anderson was a legislative aide to Jesse Helms.
    Meredith is also pro-life, in other words, telling women what they can and can not do with their bodies- the religious patriarchy in 2022 America.
    The New Official Contents of Sex Education in Mexico:laicism in the crosshairs", 3-3-2021, at the Scielo site, shows the attack on democracy. The scope of the article is much broader than the title indicates.

  3. This is what Senator Meredith emailed to me on March 5, 2022. He definitely used the word "indoctrination" to me in his defense of his actions and statements.

    No, what is idiotic and embarrassing is people who rush to judgement, criticize others and fire off emails about things they know nothing or very little about. In the referenced committee meeting, I commented that I have nothing but respect for the Imagination Library and I certainly want it to be successful. But, if my suggestion that books for pre-school age children should be not only age appropriate (which was the language in the bill presented by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Morgan McGarvey) but also content appropriate is disturbing to you, I will offer no apology. My first responsibility is to protect children.

    I never criticized Mrs. Parton’s program or her organization. Even the Courier Journal acknowledged I was not guilty of that of which I have been accused.

    While Ms. Parton is to be congratulated and commended for her work, she will not always be around to assure her program maintains the high standard she now expects. Perhaps you need to do some research on this matter to see some of the content our youngest and most vulnerable children are being exposed to. If you are not alarmed by the prospect of this happening to any reading program, then you are the one who should be ashamed. My request was to simply put guardrails in place to protect children and allow children to be children. Book should be to educate; not indoctrination.