SOMEONE has attempted to make Dunoon’s racist rock a little less racist. The Jim Crow Stone – a giant grotesque rock painted black with a “golliwog”-style red and white mouth and a name synonymous with white supremacy – has been a controversial landmark in Argyll for some years.

But any attempt to change the stone in any way has always been met with fierce resistance.

Staunch supporters of the boulder, locally and internationally, deny it’s racist and claim the stone is called Jim Crow because it’s name is Jim and it looks a bit like a crow.

That’s despite the rock featuring in one of the largest collections of racist memorabilia in the world, the Jim Crow museum of racist memorabilia in Montana, where it’s described as a “monstrosity” that left people who routinely deal with tales of lynching and slavery feeling disturbed.

One night last week, however, a painter or painters, made half of the rock a little less like an 19th-century caricature of a person of colour,

The side facing land, is now black with a small thin, white mouth, while the side facing out to the sea retains the original golliwog styling.

The change sparked furious debate on the Dunoon Observer’s Facebook.

“Jesus Christ, it’s a bloody rock that’s been there forever! It’s a Dunoon thing! No political or racial agenda involved! IT’S A ROCK!!!!!!!” wrote an impassioned Claire Bear.

James Low countered by saying: “It’s a simple fact that the term ‘Jim Crow’ now has racist connotations. Retaining that name and bright red lips (whichever side they are on) shows a totally different intent than making the rock look like a crow. And I for one do not think that our town/area should want to be associated with that sort of thinking in 2018.”

Alastair Baird noted that the paper’s article had received 167 comments. “I wish the state of the Argyll roads created so much debate,” he said wistfully.

Debate over the appropriateness of the defaced monolith was sparked again a few months ago when Neville Lawrence, the father of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, expressed his concern over the rock while holidaying in the Cowal Peninsula.

Lawrence, whose son was murdered in a brutal, racially motivated attack in 1993, told the Dunoon Observer he was “really disappointed to see such a thing” during his recent trip.

He said: “I have been coming to Scotland for many years, and since my son was murdered. Before that, I was part of the campaign to release Nelson Mandela which brought me there many times. There was a large group of us, 14 or so, who went into a pub in Glasgow.

“Nobody stopped and stared, it was very welcoming, and so when I returned to London I would tell people how different it was. I always look forward to coming to Scotland.

“I find it very disappointing that there is this thing that makes people feel very uncomfortable.

“We are all human beings. If you cut us, our blood is red. We do not need to have this kind of division in the world. We do not need to love each other, but we do need to respect each other.”

It’s not the first time the rock has been altered.

In 2009 two men used several tins of Drummond’s International grey paint – a preparation created by the Bill Drummond from the band, the KLF, to paint over anything “morally or aesthetically offensive” – to completely remove the face.

Days later Jim Crow was back.