La Corrida

>> August 4, 2010

As we are in Madrid, a wave of protest is sweeping the country: sentiments that are urged to a media-worthy level after the corrida (bullfighting) has been banned in Catalonia. The local news is filled with images of protesters, holding aloft bold phrases for bulls’ rights, accompanied by graphic illustrations. They argue that the corrida is cruel and unjust and a barbaric tradition that has no place in modern society.

According to Wikipedia, cruelty can be described as “indifference to suffering, and even pleasure in its infliction. Cruelty usually carries connotations of supremacy over a submissive or weaker force, insofar as a weaker party or entity can rarely inflict suffering on a party or entity that has greater dominance.”

Corrida in Valencia, Venezuela - 2004
Supporters for the corrida argue that it is an art form that must be preserved and honored, that individuals should be left to decide for themselves as to whether to attend the corrida, and that the banning of bullfighting will jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of Spaniards - the bullfighters, the breeders, and the individuals who work in and around the corrida culture.

Some people caught in the middle of the two arguments ask why the bulls must be killed, as death is not part of the corrida tradition in either France or Portugal.

I have been to a bullfight before, in Valencia, Venezuela, in 2005. The matadors were spectacular, they were dancers. A Spanish matador pirouetted around the thrashing, snorting, frothing, several thousand pound bull, her body holding perfect form in the swirling dust. We drank spicy Venezuelan rum and watched the performance, solitary gringos in a sea of onlookers. The performance was mesmerizing, a theater production, set against the grim stage of a bloodied bullring. Six bulls were pitted against strong and determined human athletes. I cried for each bull as it died. It was tragic, but the performance was beautiful, awe-inspiring, talented, highly trained, an incredible display of balance and well-honed technique.

The corrida is certainly a display of dominance: human over nature. Since the emergence of our species, we have always battled nature, we bully ourselves into positions of control, and force nature into submission. Asphalt and concrete and tunnels blasted through rock. Plowing and planting and foresting and deforesting our planet.

I say that Humans are cruel, my husband says that Nature is innately cruel.

Human society creates additional opportunities for cruelty. We, as a species, increase length of life, allowing people to live longer and (arguably) suffer longer. We pave fields and clear-cut forests, turning thriving animal species into road kill. We kill each other with great violence and cruelty. We use animals for testing and experiments, causing great pain and suffering. We destroy our earth a bit more each day, regardless of the long-term cost. We have rodeos and bullfights and horseracing and dogracing and dogfights and cockfights and foxhunts. All these are forms of cruelty, why choose only one - bullfighting - on which to wage war? Why is bullfighting deemed ‘more cruel’ than animal testing? Where are the priorities? At least bullfighting is a time-honored, talent-driven “sport” that has served as a cultural focal point and inclusive societal activity for several hundred years.

My point is not that bullfighting is right or wrong, but let’s get some perspective people! There are countless harmful and cruel activities that humans are engaged in every day.

Beautiful bullfighting photos can be found on BBC. Caution, some viewers may find the images disturbing.

Traditions can be wonderful. Traditions can be barbaric. Nothing, wonderful or barbaric, should be continued simply because it is a tradition - where has reasoning power gone? How many gentle pasttimes are carried on because of tradition? And how many cruel or barbaric pasttimes are carried on or attempted to be revived because they are traditional?
- ruffled_feathers, BBC website


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