Should Bullfighting be Banned?
Spain in Uproar Over Attempted Ban
No More Bullfighting Means the Extinction of the Bulls
Catalans Against Bullfighting
A majority of the two ruling parties in Catalonia, Spain, voted to abolish bullfighting in the region, a coup they have been attempting vigorously since the Canary Islands banned the sport in 1991. The move has outraged the majority of Spaniards who see the ban as a political and cultural vendetta against the rest of the country.
Barcelona is the only place in the state where bullfighting is still held and the opponents of the corrida say it is mostly attended by tourists. The vote has to be ratified shortly but it has already come under attack from influential proponents of the sport - or art - such as the group Mesa del Toro and the opposition party in Spain, the PP, or Popular Party.
I feel qualified to add my ten cents worth, because I was a bullfight reporter in Mexico for several years in the 1990’s.
Bullfighting is a callous piece of theatre, there’s no getting away from that and it’s no place for the gentle and squeamish. It does tend to be badly managed these days and riddled with corruption. Bulls are sometimes “doctored” to make them less dangerous; they often appear under the legal minimum weight. Matadors do often cheat to get the bull dead quickly and the corrida in Mexico at least, has catered too much to Televisa and their recording requirements. But there are as many good reasons for allowing the business to continue.
Not least is that you don’t have a chance in hell of getting bullfighting banned in real Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and a few other places it is practiced!
The Catalans have grabbed a dragon by the dew claw in trying to push for this ban. It is rather like all the action against gun ownership that has caught the public pulse in the USA. As Heston said if I can inaccurately paraphrase, “You will have to drag my gun from my cold, dead fingers…etc.” Bullfighting has been part of the Spanish way of life for hundreds of years: it employs many traditions and employs desirable characteristics the Spanish hold dear, such as courage and coolness, or “punador.” The turn of the coin from the cruelty angle, uncovers a majestic spectacle; a theatre - often of the absurd, but always compelling as no other sporting contest can ever be.
With no bullfighting there could be no more Spanish Fighting Bulls a peculiar and noble breed descended from wild bulls of the Iberian Peninsula. Many would protest to see the extinction of this unique animal.
Take care Anglos and others who loath bullfighting not to be hypocrites when you sound off about cruelty. Modern man in his desire for meat employs the most cruel methods of getting their beef, pork and lamb to the market; anyone who has agonized over a truck full of stock kept for days in a hot boxes aboard a truck see real cruelty being practiced. And what about battery hens!?
As dramatically sad and sickening his demise can be to people of sensibilities, the focus of all sympathy should not be on the toro, the fighting bull, which has lived a life of luxury for 4 years on a ranch before having to face his final fight on the hot sands of a bullring.
It’s easy to understand animal lovers objecting to the contest between man and bull which, in truth, can only end one way 99.9 percent of the time (remarkable bulls are very occasionally spared to become stud bulls “indultado“). But in no other confrontation between man and a superior natural force does the man put himself in real danger and is regularly injured badly and sometimes dies. That is the appeal and the redeeming reason for the corrida de toros, or bullfight.
For this reason, I hope the vote in Catalonia fails to be ratified in the full house, or whatever is the procedure over there. Like the war on drugs which conveniently turns a blind eye to booze and fags because of the money the addiction garners for the government and big business, if you are going to address cruelty, take on the whole gamut of man’s treatment of his fellow creatures on the planet, starting with those we like to eat!
Meanwhile, leave the Spanish working man to his adored theatre of the absurd.
I recommend anyone interested in finding out more about bullfighting, or to be merely entertained, to read Hemingway’s “Death in the Afternoon.”