July 23, 2010

Answered Questions V - Bullfighting


Should we abolish bullfighting? Should we protect the great national holiday? Mm, it's not a simple question, but I would like to say a few things about it:

Let me begin stating that I do not consider myself an activist in defense of animal rights, I do not want to cause them any harm either. Let me also state I do not like bullfighting. That is true. I remember when I was a kid and television was black and white, those endless afternoons in the arenas that were so boring. That being said, it is also clear that I am not indifferent to animals suffering, nor do I object to the activities or events that are simply not going with me. You may think that these claims disallow me to express my views on the subject. I think that discussions need to hear as many voices as possible, not just the defenders of each of the thesis, in constant dialectical struggle with the other.

I will start commenting on the facts: I think it is an undeniable fact that animals suffer when they are wounded and are killed. How much suffering? I do not know since I'm not a bull. But it is undeniable that they have a nervous system and brain, which among other things, that's what they are for. When they learn to write with their hoofs and can do a test of pain VAS, perhaps we may find out how much the pain is, in any case I would want to be in their place.

Another undeniable fact is that bullfighting (forgive me if I do not choose the precise terminology), is an asset of the country's culture. By that I mean it's a celebration, event, or festival, bringing together a set of elements that we inherited from our tradition and that enrich our cultural diversity. The ‘corridas’ are a community experience and a show that lets us share a set of symbols, challenges, metaphors and even catharsis. Yes, I know that every act with a crowd of people has some folk, banal and mundane aspects, but that happens even in a concert of Bach. Because in the ‘corridas’ there is an artistic expression indeed. The fact of being illiterate in the world of bullfighting does not prevent me from recognizing that it shows plastic beauty, choreography and a communication to an audience that may find references in other forms of artistic expression. Please do not get mad at me those which, hurt in their feelings, argue that in an act of cruelty there can not be art, because art has so many ramifications as ways of living, some of them offensive to some, otherwise consider plastination exhibitions of human or the more extreme surreal expressions (read Dalí reciting the side of a donkey in the act of defecation, for instance).

So far the facts: That is, it is desirable that is animal suffering avoided, and there is a cultural tradition (popular) that would be desirable to preserve. The issue lies in the apparent contradiction of these two goals. And if you were calm so far, I'll be a little bad. For now start value judgments.

To those who are against the Bullfighting: When we abolish acts which entail unnecessary suffering to animals, how we judge what is unnecessary? Because, apart from vegans, I think most of us grant similar treatment throughout the meat industries. Is it because we do not give any value to the bullfights? Besides, Is there any sponsor of this abolition, to admit being a profound admirer of the ‘Fiesta’, but that sacrifices his passion belief in pursuit of a more modern and respectful world? Could it be that the abolitionists, deny the ‘Fiesta’ in all its aspects and hate each and every one of its facets? That weakens a little bit their position do not you think?

Those who support Bullfighting: Has any of them ever gone to a ‘corrida’ and did not enjoy it? Or do they live on any business related to the activity? Have they considered at any point the sacrifice of their own pleasure? Have they raised a consciousness of the situation under discussion, namely, the skin of the bull? Or on the contrary, do they simply react grimly to those who want to spoil their fun, or lifestyle? The world changes, society too, and the traditions as well. Like it or not, traditions and celebrations we had in the Middle Ages have disappeared, and many of the present ones will be gone five hundred years from today. Also new ones will emerge. Our heritage is moving with us and we can stick to it or be its engine. We can take advantage if handled well, or lose it forever in a rapid-fire sequence of misunderstandings.

Let fate decide, some seem to say. Let relentless market forces dictate whether there is audience or not, and if this demand declines, the activity disappears. If not, you know, as long as there is money there is hope. It is sad to say we could make decisions in our community and leave them instead up to the approach of the mercantilist systems that have subdued us. We let them act as a blind judge with the blind justice, I mean monetary one. Therefore if people stop buying books, perhaps we should forget about reading.

It is not a simple matter, as I said at first... But when a group must give up something it never is. I suppose a modernization of the ‘corrida’, with no flags or swords, without biting or blood, no ears or tails being cut, would be too little blunt (or too drastic as we look at it) to conform to either side. No doubt it will be until the valid arguments on both sides are mutual and openly recognized. Until then, I leave it up to your sensitivities to choose one or the other side. I already have.

(I have not used terms like "cruel", "abuse", "anachronism" because they did not provide useful exposure and were too subjective assessments for this question with an answer. I leave them up to you, if you wish).

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