Good news: Americans now safe from Confederate flag imagery in "Dukes of Hazzard" reruns on TV Land

I thought, with Civil War games being reinstated in the app store, we were already past the stupidest phase of the anti-flag frenzy. Serves me right that I’m disappointed now after daring to be optimistic about anything.

If Charleston stands for nothing else, it stands for the idea that modern America will no longer tolerate a cornpone comedy about two hicks riding around in a car.

The Viacom-owned cable network quietly removed The Dukes of Hazzard from their programming schedule yesterday in the wake of recent controversy regarding the show’s extensive use of the Confederate flag. The 1979-85 series had been airing twice daily at 4:36 p.m. and 5:38 p.m. (ET) and, according to listings at TV, was scheduled to continue in that slot. The classic Western Bonanza will now air in its place.

A TV Land spokesperson confirmed via email that the series has been removed from the schedule, but offered no further comment…

Country Music Television (CMT) had also been airing The Dukes of Hazzard recently, but a quick check of their website indicates no scheduled broadcasts. CMT is also owned by Viacom.

Tough call for Warner Bros. Do they try to reason with the networks by explaining that the flag, in the context of this ridiculously innocuous show, wasn’t a statement of racism but rather a symbol of two southern boys’ rebelliousness towards the local cops? Or do they concede defeat and start digitally retouching the reruns to take the flag out, as I jokingly suggested last week? According to the terms of the debate this month, it’s irrelevant what your intent is when you display the flag. (Americans are evenly split on whether it’s racist or not.) What’s relevant is how it’s likely to be received by black Americans, who understandably get nervous at seeing an emblem of the Confederacy given a place of honor. Basic decency towards your fellow citizens calls for suppressing the flag, even if the context makes clear that your intentions are pure. The only exception is displays related to the Civil War, where removing the flag would be a revisionist bridge too far. So Warner Bros. could either acquiesce in the show being taken out of circulation as a gesture of goodwill to African-Americans, or it could go back through the various “Dukes” episodes and edit out the “problematic” car roof. The latter would set an ominous precedent for retroactive tinkering with archived files for political reasons by major media conglomerates — “Dukes” is a very, very tiny piece of history too, after all — but at least it would keep the show viable for re-airing. Maybe those are the only options in cases like this as America grows more stridently intolerant of intolerance — outright suppression or historical revisionism. Which would you prefer?

If “Dukes” is too hot for basic cable then Lou Lumenick is probably right that “Gone With the Wind” will soon be too hot for theaters or even for TCM. No one will cry over Bo and Luke being chased into oblivion but GWTW will be a brawl. Oh, by the way: The best part of all this is that TV Land’s replacing “Dukes” with “Bonanza,” which itself is guilty of some mighty archaic takes on racial matters. Anyone remember Hop Sing? Evidently this is unobjectionable enough to re-air in 2015 America but not a half-second glimpse of the top of a car while Roscoe P. Coltrane is in hot pursuit.