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Why Bullfighting is Wrong, Lame, and Should Be Stopped
In the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
What is Bullfighting?
Bullfighting is a long standing tradition in several countries, especially Spain and Mexico. Though there are variations throughout the world, the most famous Spanish bullfight consists of a toreador and his assistants, who gradually weaken the bull with spears until the main toreador kills it with a sword. I've been told that it's a bit more nuanced than that, but effectively, that's the basic idea.
This tradition dates back to the 18th century and earlier, but recent protests have resulted it being banned in a few areas, including Catalonia in Spain. I'd heard of bull fighting before (and found it a distasteful idea), but this past week I was in Madrid and decided to see what it was really about. [This was written in late March, 2012.] You can see my later, more compete analysis of bullfighting here.
My bullfighting experience was not a success. Because my tour guide and many locals recommended it, I decided to take a look before I left Madrid. The hotel had some tickets available so I thought, "What the heck?", picked up the tickets, and headed down to the Plaza de Toros. I had previously heard from American friends that the sport was brutal, and that several couldn't or wouldn't sit through it. Though I kept that in mind, I didn't fully understand what they meant until I was there.
The bullfight I went to was scheduled to involve 6 bulls, so I picked up some snacks and a cushion to sit on (the seats are solid stone). I ended up leaving after the second one was killed, deciding I had things to do besides watching bulls getting slaughtered. Something about the bull, and the spears, and most of all the people shouting in the stands made me feel a bit sick.
Now, personally, I love boxing and wrestling and Kung Fu movies, so I'm not necessarily averse to a fight. Call me old-fashioned, violent, un-evolved or whatever else, but to me there still seems to be honor in a good fight. However, I find bullfighting seriously indefensible for a couple of reasons.
My Gut Reactions and Reasons
The first reason that comes to mind is that it's not mutually agreed to have this fight. In a boxing or wrestling match, the two opponents agree to fight, something they have the right to do. In bullfighting, the bull is forced into the arena, without provocation or giving its consent (shocker).
I'm not equating a bull's life to a human's. I'm not vegetarian, and I enjoy my bacon as much as most other Americans do. [This was written before I went vegan. Another story.] But the power human beings have over the planet also translates into responsibility towards the Earth and those under our control, like domesticated animals. Torturing for amusement, even an animal, seems like serious abuse of the power we have.
Which brings me to my second point: the bull has no chance of winning. It's several men with weapons and horses versus one bull, and almost without exception this "fight" is just a spectacle death. What can the bull do? Even if he manages to gore a toreador, it will still result in his death. If there was a time limit or an all-out no maiming policy, I'd find bullfighting easier to stomach, but because of the bull's inevitable death, bullfighting feels like only torture and execution for the amusement of the crowd. Lame. Terrible. I think it's about time the human race evolve beyond that.
But, of course, the individual conscience is the judge. This was far more of a quick rant than an unbiased examination. I do know that there are more complex arguments on both sides. [I tried to address in my later hub Summary of views on bullfighting- including mine.] Please feel free to post your views on bullfighting in the comments.