About bullfighting, bulls, traditions and cruelty
Esta entrada es la traducción de esta otra entrada en español respecto a la tauromaquia, los toros, las tradiciones y la crueldad.
I have thought about writing this post after reading this news in El País:
The translation of the title of the previously linked article is that some tourists didn’t know that bulls are killed in the bullfights.
Many comments in the press agree that bullfighting languishes, that it is not economically profitable and that it only survives thanks to the support of public subsidies.
However, the aforementioned news has made me think that tourism may be a source of financing to a greater or lesser extent of that sadistic spectacle. The idea of this article, written both in Spanish and English, is to give an option for tourists to know what this cruel bullfighting activity is about, and to be able to choose more informatively if they decide to go to witness a bullfight.
Summary history of bullfighting
Apparently, historians do not agree on the origins and history of these practices. Since ancient times shows have been held that included some kind of struggle between humans and animals.
In Roman times, bloody shows were practiced in which people and animals faced in different modalities (armed, unarmed, in groups …). It was a way to entertain the people, it was a source of fame for the organizers and allowed them to generate a lucrative business.
In Roman Hispania these customs were inherited, which can be related more or less directly or doubtfully with different shows with animals that were developed in later centuries. There were periods where these activities enjoyed greater popularity and at other times they were more criticized.
Bullfighting seems to have arisen in the eleventh century, and in subsequent years was related to the nobility. It was always practiced on horseback, and sometimes it was imitated by the flat people, who did it on foot because they could not afford horses, although it was a very different practice from what a current bullfight would be.
In the eighteenth century the Bourbons arrived, who came from France, where this custom was not carried and was considered a medieval practice and poor sight, and the nobility began to stop practicing it.
The flat people, however, continued to practice bullfighting, but they did it on foot since the horses were too expensive. There were also detractors of this stupid show, as José Picón shows in his work Pan y Toros.
During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the bullfighting show evolved to the way it is practiced today. Periods of more popularity have been alternated with moments of less impact, and it has always been an activity subject to controversy among its defenders and detractors.
Today the popularity of bullfighting is very low, and the public in the bullring is rather scarce. However, there is a small but very noisy collective generally related to a certain conception of Spanish nationalism, which viculates bullfighting with Spanish traditions and folklore and claims and defends it.
Arguments commented for and against bullfighting
There are some concepts that are repeated when discussing this issue. Arguments offered by supporters of this bloody activity. I have collected some and after naming them I will comment on my impressions.
- Bullfighting is part of the traditional Spanish culture, of its folklore. Eradicating it is eliminating an important part of the Spanish cultural heritage.
It does not seem to me that bullfighting is an indispensable part of the Spanish culture. In fact, neither bullfighting as such is such an ancient phenomenon, nor today it’s a cultural feature appreciated by a large part of the Spanish population (most people are ashamed of this “typically Spanish” cruel activity).
Furthermore, even if we admit that it is a significant cultural heritage, traditions have always adapted to the evolution of the times. Today, it is widely shared that torturing and killing an animal for fun is a reprehensible act.
You cannot maintain a cruel and bloodthirsty activity just because it is a supposed tradition. Many traditions have been forgotten over the years and centuries for not adapting to the evolution of human values. There is nothing wrong with eliminating a cultural manifestation that goes against the values of most people in 21st century Spain.
No one would be in favor of maintaining the gladiatorial death struggles just because it was an ancient tradition.
- The life of the bull before the corrida is very good, in fact much better than that of other farm animals
As good as a bull’s life is, that does not justify ending it in a show of torture, pain and death. And the fact that there are other worse situations does not justify allowing such a sadistic and cruel thing to exist.
- Bulls are an important part of the Spanish tourism industry. Without this type of party the country would lose money that tourists bring
Bullfighting is a very small part of the Spanish tourist attraction, and proof of this is that bullfights are always half-empty. Most foreigners reject such a barbaric and wild custom, which only damages the image of the country abroad. In addition, of course, money and economic prosperity are important but are not everything.
- There are people, families, an industry, which depends on the economic activity of bullfighting.
Most of the money generated by bullfighting is based on public subsidies, since it is a very deficient business that attracts very few people. It seems unfair to have to subsidize a bankrupt business so that some people and businesses live on it, with the public money that we all pay (the majority of the population being against bullfighting). In addition, that money is no reason to sustain a cruel and bloodthirsty industry. The Roman gladiators also moved a lot of money, and the current arms traffic as well. Do we finance it?
- If there were no bullfighting there would be no brave bull.
It is absurd to raise an animal with the sole purpose of torturing it publicly. If it does not exist, it does not exist. Even so, there are many races of bulls, not dedicated to bullfighting, that would continue to exist exactly the same.
- In bullfighting the person shows his skill and courage against the beast
Lie. In bullfighting, a man with all possible advantages, torture and abuse of a helpless and frightened herbivorous animal.
Bulls are herbivorous animals, more prepared to flee than to confront humans. In addition, bulls are placed in a crowded square full of people who scare them, disorient them with their colored cloaks, stick objects in the bull’s back and neck to prevent them from raising their heads and weakening them, and after all this, when the bull is exhausted, the bullfighter finally finishes it. Is that a brave and fair fight? Bullfighters are cowards.
- The ban in Catalonia has political motives, not truly just protectionism of animals.
Let me put you in context of this comment. Some time ago, bullfights in Catalonia were banned, not without controversy. Some people argue that behind this prohibition there is no real animalistic intention, but simply the desire to eliminate an activity that relates to Spanish nationalism as opposed to Catalan nationalism.
My opinion about it is that… I don’t care. That is to say, the “true intent” of this prohibition does not matter to me as much as the fact that the prohibition itself is a reality, which seems positive to me. Of course, I would like legislators in Catalonia and Spain to have protectionist sensibilities, but in any case, at least and for whatever reason, it is forbidden. Thanks to that less bulls are mistreated and tortured. I would like very much that in Catalonia, in addition, the rest of forms of mistreatment and torture of bulls and other animals that may occur in the street on the occasion of major parties and others (correbous, etc) could be prohibited.
How bullfights are financed
Bullfighting is an economically ruinous activity. Very little public comes to witness that bloody show.
They would not be profitable if it was not … for public subsidies. Indeed, a lot of public money is injected into bullfights, bullfighting schools, livestock, and other related business.
In these two magnificent articles, one from El Diario.es and another from Teinteresa.es, it is detailed in a very interesting way.
It seems to me very unfair that public money, paid by people who mostly do not want to subsidize acts of animal torture, goes to these ends. Furthermore, this bullfighting subsidy is made using lies and half-truths, because the numbers wielded by bullfighting supporters on jobs created and economic benefit are largely distorted.
El oscuro mantenimiento de la tauromaquia (Eldiario.es)
Tourist: help us to end this scourge
I conclude this post with a brief message to the people who can visit our country.
Dear tourist, dear visitor, dear traveller: please do not go to any bullfight. Do not help finance this cruel spectacle. Turning our back to this medieval activity we will all contribute to its disappearance. Thank you.