A Larne man has spoken out against moves to ban the sale of merchandise bearing the Confederate flag in the United States.
The decision to restrict the sale of the Civil War-era battle flag, seen by many as an emblem of slavery and systemic racial oppression, has come in the wake of a deadly church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, when a 21-year-old white supremacist shot and killed nine people.
Online retail giants Amazon and eBay have now banned the sale of Confederate flags and similarly themed merchandise, and political leaders in South Carolina have announced a push to have the flag removed from the grounds of the state capitol.
And the controversy has even reached one of the most iconic cars in the history of American television; the General Lee.
The orange 1969 Dodge Charger – made famous in The Dukes of Hazzard TV show in the early 1980s – had a signature horn and a Confederate flag emblazoned on its roof.
Warner Bros, which owns licensing rights to show, has now halted production of toys and replicas of the famous sports car.
But local car buff Mike Barr, who owns a full-sized replica of the General Lee, has described the decision to remove the flag as “political correctness gone mad”.
Mike owns a company called Star Car Hire, which gives people the chance to make their wedding day that little bit more memorable by pulling up to the service in famous movie cars such as of Starsky and Hutch’s 1976 Gran Ford Torino, or the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
The Dodge Charger from Dukes of Hazzard has always been one of Mike’s most popular cars, and despite the recent controversy surrounding the flag, he has “no intention” of making any changes to his beloved General.
He told the Times: “I recently ordered a model of the General online and had it shipped from the States. When it arrived it had a sticker over the roof to cover up the flag. What is the world coming to?
“I have had the General for about 10 years and people love it, even those who are too young to remember the TV show.
“Dukes of Hazzard was a good old family show and the General Lee is a part of American TV history. I have no plans to make any changes to the car.
“In my opinion, officials in America should be more concerned about gun control than banning a flag.”
The Dukes Of Hazzard aired on CBS from 1979 until 1985 and starred Tom Wopat and John Schneider as cousins Bo and Luke, who drove an orange hot rod through a fictional county in Georgia.
The show also spawned a 2005 movie that starred Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville.