"Stop butchering bunnies"

- Sign carried by two of the six protesters outside the Whole Foods store in Mount Pleasant, Aug. 17, 2014

"Kill the wabbit!"

- Elmer Fudd, "What's Opera, Doc?," 1957

Times change.

So do attitudes.

For instance, way back when Bugs Bunny first foiled Fudd's "A Hunting We Will Go" blood lust, few of our two-legged kind objected to human consumption of wabbit, er, rabbit.

But now that Whole Foods has started selling rabbit meat, energized bunny defenders are taking their outrage to the streets. Last Sunday's demonstration at the Mount Pleasant Whole Foods was just one of 44 across the land.

Rabbit advocacy groups want to "educate" the public on the cruel conditions the creatures suffer at rabbit meat farms. Of course, modern food tycoons routinely subject cattle, poultry, swine and other savory sorts to similar plights before killing them with industrialized efficiency.

Still, lots of people find rabbits, even post-bunnyhood, cuter, and thus more deserving of sympathy, than cows, chickens and pigs.

Plus, as another sign featuring pictures of local pets put it last Sunday outside our Whole Foods: "Rabbits are family, not food."

And hey, we Americans don't, or at least shouldn't, eat dogs and cats. Yet though lots of Americans have pet turtles and frogs, that doesn't stop lots of other Americans from eating turtle soup and frog legs.

While we're on the subject of selective judgments about cuteness and worth:

Why does Bugs Bunny get top billing over Daffy Duck?

That Looney Tunes injustice has long vexed us Daffy fans.

Off with their heads?

Back to Whole Foods: My investigation of the rabbit ruckus took me on the inside of that Mount Pleasant store Friday. My three most crucial findings: 1) The store sells frozen "Whole Young Rabbits," 2) It's plain to see which species those young things are, despite their being headless and skinned, 3) That store also sells duck meat.

Hey, ducks are cute, too.

So why isn't anybody protesting Whole Foods selling ducks?

This isn't Whole Foods' first controversy. Company CEO and co-founder John Mackey riled many left-leaning customers five years ago with a Wall Street Journal guest column that sounded this brave alarm about the ludicrously titled Affordable Care Act:

"While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system."

Back to rabbit eating:

Yes, Genesis certifies our dominion over other critters.

Yes, plenty of us who have stopped devouring land-animal flesh (you can't expect all of us semi-vegetarians to give up seafood) respect the intrepid hunter's prerogative to gun down - or launch arrows into - rabbits, deer, wild pigs, squirrels, bears, turkeys and a variety of other birds.

Then again, hunting's an easier hobby to defend when predators put their prey on plates instead of mounting them on walls.

"What's Opera, Doc?" aims amusing fun at hunters. Fudd belts out "Kill the Wabbit!" to the tune of "Ride of the Valkyries," which should be familiar to "Apocalypse Now" veterans, from Richard Wagner's "Die Walküre."

However, another Looney Tunes classic scores a much more direct hit on the brutal human habit of stalking and slaughtering fellow mammals.

From hunter to hunted

In 1943's "To Duck ... Or Not To Duck," Daffy, finally fed up with dodging Fudd's shotgun blasts, shows soaring dramatic range with a rhetorical counterattack.

Literally and figuratively disarming Elmer, Daffy mockingly asks: "Sportsman?"

Then after a series of ducky "humphs," "huhs" and "hahs," he tells the suddenly fearful Fudd: "Listen, sport. You don't know the meaning of fair play. What chance does a poor helpless fluffy little winged creature like me have against you? You with your bullets, and your shotgun, and your knife, and your duck call, and your hunting coat and your hunting dog, and all kind of stuff like that there?"

A merciless ducko-y-mano boxing match ensues.

So does timeless insight about mankind's enduring conflict with Mother Nature.

Meanwhile, though, don't worry about running out of rabbits. After all, they're remarkably prolific, taking a mere month from getting pregnant to giving birth, with an average of six (and up to 14) bunnies per litter.

Rabbits also, if distant memory's right, taste like chicken.

As for folks who slight ducks, as Daffy tells that insufferable ham Bugs in 1953's "Duck Amuck":

"You're dethpicable."

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.