Ban Bullfighting

Article - Bullfight fallacies

Erika Duran Mejia and Alejandro Sanchez Lariccia of the Antibullfighting Movement of Colombia Foundation report on the lies inherent in the bullfighting industry.

Colombia continues to perpetuate the cruelty of the Roman Circus. Gone, of course, are the gladiators of old, but two principal elements of the circus remain: the torture and trickery employed by the bullfighter in goading and finally slaughtering what is by all accounts a noble and beautiful animal.

In order to continue engaging in this vile and degenerate pastime, and to assure the continued revenues that bullfighting generates, the aficionados of this retrograde "sport" resort to thinly-veiled excuses or explanations that frankly offend the intelligence of even the most uncritical inquirer.

Here are but a few of the characteristically flawed rationales advanced by the bullfight aficionado in justifying his blood lust:

"This is what bulls are for."

Pure-bred bulls (Bos taurus) have been in existence for a very long time - far longer than man's custom of enclosing them in a corral for the purpose of creating a spectacle of their agony and lingering death. We should recall that various primitive civilisations of Africa and Asia venerated bulls as a god-like incarnation of beauty, fertility, nobility and strength.

It would seem, however, that certain "developing" nations have actually taken a step backwards, as their taste for morbid entertainment now allows the desecration of what was once divine.

"Fighting bulls were made to fight."

Bulls are not "made" for anything; they are born just like any other mammal. Their temper is simply due to their instinct of territoriality, and this characteristic has been exploited by certain individuals for the sake of mass amusement.

"Bulls are by nature ferocious."

If a bull's territory is respected the animal will not attack. A bull in its natural habitat is actually a rather tame animal, and will only attack out of fear, self-protection or territoriality.

"In a bullring bulls have the opportunity to fight for their lives."

However much a bull may fight for its life, it is savagely tortured, humiliated and finally killed. The bull's death in the bullring is slow and agonising. Some bulls are "pardoned" for valour in the ring but the majority of these die within a few days from the wounds received, or from the resultant infections.

"Bulls do not feel pain."

You can do all the genetic manipulation you want, but a bull is still going to feel pain - just like any other living creature.

Pain, after all, is a defence mechanism that tells us when there's something wrong - either within our bodies or in our external environment. Bulls - like all mammals - possess both a central nervous system and a visceral or autonomous nervous system.

When a fly alights on a bull's rump, it is readily shaken off, either by the tail or by a quick twitching of the hide. Are we then to suppose that a bull is incapable of feeling the stab of six banderillas, the thrust of a 14-centimeter pica, the jab of the black banderillas (known as "punishment" harpoons) or impalement with a one-meter sword, which generally punctures its lungs, causing the bull to drown in its own blood?

"Bullfighting is an art form."

Undeniably, there is much artistic expression that accompanies the bullfight - the stirring music, the carefully choreographed manoeuvres of the bullfighter, his elaborate dress. But what art is there in torturing an animal?

Art is by definition a sublime expression of the human spirit. It springs forth from man's interpretation of his surroundings, and seeks to evoke a certain reaction in the viewer - to inspire him, to stir his imagination or simply to please. Furthermore, we might say that art is creative, not destructive. How then can a primitive, cruel practice be expected to evoke the sublime feelings that characterise a successful work of art? Not in a thousand years could a bullfighter, with his arrogance and anthropocentricity, be considered an artist.

"Animal rights groups are against bulls getting killed, but they have no problem with a bullfighter getting killed."

This is patently false. We do not relish the death of any human being, nor do we rejoice in the demise of a bullfighter. In our view, bullfighters are the unwitting products (or victims) of a certain stratum of society that renders homage and tribute to crass banalities.

"People have a right to entertainment."

Everyone has a right to healthful entertainment but with due regard for life in all its diversity. Surely we all accept the fact that our personal freedom ends at the point where it starts to encroach on the freedom of our fellow man. This fundamental respect for others is simply part of the broader respect we should show to the rest of creation.

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