Bullfighting: Cruel and Agonizing
The "Dance of Death"
The "dance of death" is the reference to bullfighters teasing a bull and manipulating the bulls' moves against itself, weakening and exhausting the bull. This, of course, makes the bull more vulnerable to its slow and painful death, which is performed by the matador (bull fighter). This is a typical tradition for Spaniards. People actually pay to watch an animal being slaughtered slowly and painfully, and if that wasn't already cruel enough, they cheer for the matador who waves victoriously to the audience as though he has done something truly honorable and heroic.
This tradition is attractive to the Spanish because bullfighting puts the dramatic "man vs. beast" in the spotlight, but what it really all comes down to is an unfair fight deliberately designed to weaken the bull, and the bull is set up for failure, and agonizing failure at that. Bulls are often starved all day prior to the fight in order to put the bull at a disadvantage in the ring. When the bull is finally released into the ring, it is ecstatic to finally be liberated from its confined space. It gallops around the ring a little bit, enjoying its newfound freedom. Then it begins to feel threatened, and prepares to defend "its territory."
A matador taunts the bull on foot by provoking it to attack the cape he uses to tease it. The matador skillfully and deliberately uses moves designed to weaken the bull. The bull may be provoked to move in such a way, its legs will buckle beneath the bull's great weight as it crouches down awkwardly, preparing to attack the cape. The bull becomes exhausted and becomes a glowing target for the rest of the bullfight horrors: the spears that are thrust in a pair into the bull's muscle tissue on its neck, causing excruciating pain, even though the bull tries to fight it off and continue to attack the cape.
As the bull moves, the spears inside the bull move too, twisting and tearing the muscle. This is another clever way to take down the mighty bull. The matador's six assistants riding on horseback contribute more spears into the bull, and if they are very lucky, their horses (and their riders) will not be attacked and injured by the bull. Sometimes, the horse's body is protected by a heavy cloack protecting each side of the horse's abdomen from the horns of the furious bull. Finally, the matador thrusts a final lance into the bull, tearing its lungs. Now the cruelest part of the activity occurs as the bull's lungs fill with blood and the audience can see blood spewing from the bull's mouth. Yes, the bull dies by drowning in its own blood. A fascinating creature who only wanted to survive and be free...has been unjustly slaughtered for the mere purpose of entertainment.
So What Do You Think?
There are two main reactions to this issue: the Spanish and Portugese respect this bullfighting activity as a tradition that has traveled its way hundreds of years through Spanish history, and many tourists who are sitting in the audience find it an exciting and interesting foreign experience when they go to visit Spain. Then there are those like me who see bullfighting for what it really is: unnecessary animal cruelty. Those who support bullfighting believe they are showing respect and admiration for one's country. But shouldn't "respecting your country" include respect for the creatures that reside in it? Killing an animal is in no way respectful towards anyone or anything.
Unfortunately, bullfighting is a popular tourist attraction among the Spanish and Portugese, and crowds may be cheering on the brutal actions of the matador for many more years. And for those of us who are cheering on the bull, let's keep on cheering by refusing to ever contribute in any way to support this cruel torment to bulls.