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So Long, Yosemite Sam
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the June 10, 2020 issue of The Journal
   It was recently announced that Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam won't have guns in their newest cartoons.
   I watched Looney Tunes many Saturday mornings as a kid, so I know Elmer's whole gig is chasing Bugs Bunny through the woods with a shotgun, while Yosemite Sam is notorious for shooting at everybody and everything with his double pistols.
   Elmer and Yosemite without their guns is like Zorro without a sword or Robin Hood without a longbow.
   I can't say I didn't see it coming. Looney folks have wanted to say, "That's All Folks!" to Looney Tunes for many years, because they deemed them too violent for children. I just never thought it would actually happen.
   I mean how many decades of kids (including many of my readers, I'm sure) grew up watching Elmer and Yosemite blasting away and yet somehow never became mass shooters or violent people?
   Instead, they developed a sense of humor and the ability to distinguish silly cartoons from reality.
   Country crooner Hank Williams, Jr. certainly saw it coming. He was nicknamed "Bocephus" by his father. It was a humorous reference to Grand Ole Opry ventriloquist Rod Brasfield's dummy of the same name. However, Bocephus proved that he was no dummy by writing song lyrics that proved prophetic.
   Thirty-nine years ago, he recorded "The Coalition to Ban Coalitions," which included the following lines:
   "Now the latest thing they want to stomp out is violence on TV,
   And the worst of all is that Oscar winning rabbit Bugs Bunny.
   Farewell, Foghorn Leghorn, so long Yosemite Sam.
   They're messin' with our heroes and we got to stop them now.
   You're despicable." (With the last words in the voice of Daffy Duck.)
   Way back in 1981 when he recorded that song, "experts" were warning parents that exposing their children to the violence of the beloved cartoon characters of my youth could desensitize them and cause them to lose their grip on reality.
   Today's youth probably have no idea how close our country came to tossing the First Amendment when their parents were growing up.
   The concern grew to the point that in 1985 Tipper Gore (wife of former Vice President Al Gore, who you youngsters may know as the "Global Warming Guy") and the wives of a few other prominent politicians testified before Congress to express their outrage that children were being hurt by harmful lyrics in songs (mostly hard rock, but the emerging rap genre was targeted heavily when it became more popular later in the 80s).
   The result? Warning labels began to appear on albums and cassettes. The result of that? Kids looked for warning labels so they'd know which songs they wanted to listen to. Before long, record companies were purposely printing the warnings much larger than required, because it was good for business.
   The hysteria grew to the point that in the early 1990s officers were ordered to arrest store owners for selling 2 Live Crew's music.
   "Fresh Kid Ice" died a few years ago, but I wonder if the surviving members of 2 Live Crew would consider a remake of "Banned In The USA" with Elmer and Yosemite Sam as guest rappers. I smell a hit.