Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sangre Del Torro - The ethics of Spanish bullfighting

Want to discuss this article in our Spain forum? Click here!

Bullfighting is one of the cultural earmarks of Spain.

Dating back to the times before Christ and rooted in the pagan mythology of sacrificing bulls to multiple gods, bullfighting is celebrated as a masculine display of bravado and human courage. The first formalised bullfight was staged in the eleventh century, almost a thousand years ago. More than a sport, bullfighting was seen as symbolic of the ongoing struggle between humanity and nature, or humanity and the underworld. Fans imbue it with an almost spiritual importance, and definitely as an artform.

Now social mores have changed, and general opinion has shifted. Even in Spain public consensus is very much against bullfighting. Only ten per cent of Spain's population are fans, with the remainder being either indifferent - dismissing bullfighting as a quaint remnant of a redundant past - or strongly opposed.

The arguments against it are hard to refute: Aside from the cerebral wrangles over an animal's consent to participate, there are more immediate and practical issues of cruelty. Bulls are not released into the ring in their best shape: they may spend an entire day weighted with sandbags to sap their energy, be fed laxatives to weaken and dehydrate them, be partially blinded with petroleum jelly or have their neck muscles cut to prevent full motion of their (shaved) horns. Like the bulls of Pamplona, many bulls are raised in dark confined spaces, released into the light only at the moment of entering the arena, to ensure that they are as disoriented and vulnerable as possible.

The Spanish government has responded to the shift in public opinion. Bullfights have been banned from being televised, following concerns raised by parents about the violent images being seen by children, and under-14s are no longer allowed to attend bullfights. These two moves effectively strangled the profit flow of bullfighting: TV advertising and family tickets to live matches were the two main market sectors.

Nevertheless, the ten per cent of Spaniards who do favour bullfighting are a vocal minority who put their money where there mouth is...

Read More: http://www.expatfocus.com/the-ethics-of-spanish-bullfighting

No comments: