We grew up with many role models, first of all our parents, our families, our friends, and lastly media of papers or TV. Funny though, you would pick the "lone Ranger" as a moral role model. He fought for justice and the rule of law, truly, yet he rode with a mask like a bandit (as if being the law needed to be hidden) and throughout the entire show, he called his sidekick fool or stupid (that is what Tonto means) http://www.straightdope.com/columns/rea ... osabe-mean
First, I won't argue about the order of role models...
Parents being first: Most of us at that time had parents who themselves were raised well. Some didn't.
Friends second: It was well understood that friends were significant influences and we were advised to choose our friends wisely.
Media: The role models we saw there did not contradict, for the most part, the teachings we received from our parents, grandparents, etc.
As far as the meaning Tonto goes, there is plenty of debate on that. Much of the characterization of Tonto comes not from any southwestern tribe, but from a Michigan tribe called the Potawatomi. It is true that the word "tonto" means "stupid," or "fool" in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, but the name translates as "wild one" in the Potawatomi. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonto
) That goes back to the radio series prior to TV. People looking for another source would easily settle on the Spanish meaning, since Mexico borders Texas, but there is no real reason to conclude that.
The origin of the Lone Ranger's mask also traces back to the radio series. Tonto and the Lone (Texas) Ranger wanted the gang that attacked six Texas Rangers to think that all of them were dead. Here's the paragraph from Wikipedia that describes the premise of the original show, a radio production (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lone_Ranger
"While details differ, the basic story of the origin of the Lone Ranger is the same in most versions of the franchise. Six Texas Rangers are ambushed by a band of outlaws led by Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish. Later, a Native American named Tonto stumbles on the scene and recognizes the lone survivor, Ranger Reid (whose first name was never given on the show), as the man who had saved his life some time in the past. He nurses Reid back to health. The two men dig six graves for Reid's comrades, so that Cavendish will think there were no survivors. Among them is Reid's brother, Captain Daniel Reid, who is the Captain of the Texas Rangers. Tonto fashions a black Domino mask using material from Captain Daniel Reid's vest to conceal the Lone Ranger's identity
. Even after the Cavendish gang is brought to justice, Reid continues to fight for law and order, against evil and crime under the guise of the Lone Ranger." The "Lone" Ranger was a sole survivor who carried on the mission of the dead Texas Rangers.
There are differing cases to be made, but it makes little sense to suggest "Tonto" means "fool" when the story had no Portuguese, nor Italian, nor Spanish background, but it did have Potawatomi background. And when the reason for the Lone Ranger's mask is explained, the mask makes better sense, too. Plus, it made for better TV and a better following among kids riding their stick horses around the house.
In this day of political correctness, we need to realize that we also have people rewriting history for political motivations -- some of which intend to make "dead white men" out to be bad guys. Certainly some of the absolute truths in the histories are lost with the people who originated these TV episodes. And then when Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live get finished panning them, errors creep into the public consciousness. I'd be careful about concluding Tonto means "fool" and that the mask means justice must be hidden. These views tend to denigrate the dead people who conceived these shows, and they're no longer around to defend themselves.
For sure, we can say that these oldies were goodies, that they advanced a clear moral code, and that they had a positive influence on the generation that watched them.