Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Bullfighting protest in Spain

I stumbled on information on bullfighting demonstrations in Spain. The most recent was June 22nd, but there was an earlier one that got international attention (and has english subtitles):

The english switches between saying “bullfighting” and “bullkilling”. I don’t know Spanish well enough to be certain of what the best english translation is, though I believe they’re actually calling for the abolition of bullfighting not just the killing of the bulls at the end. I seem to recall that the bulls aren’t killed in the ring in Portugal, so I would think that the Spanish activists know quite well to go for the abolition of the brutal sport in its entirety.

I have actually seen a bullfight. I look back and I wonder what the hell I was thinking, but at the time I was 20, I was traveling around, I was in Madrid, I was hanging out with people who were totally convinced that seeing a bullfight was part of seeing Spanish culture.

I couldn’t watch most of it. I hated it, I felt sick, and I was SO happy when a matador was kicked in the head by a bull and knocked out. (He was fine, just had a minor concussion. The bull, of course, did not survive the ring.) I don’t know what that says about me, but the brutality of the sport, the constant blood, the terror I felt for the horses who wearing armor or no were often knocked over by the bulls, it all made me feel sick to my stomach. I don’t worry much about the humans in these cases, because even if they get hurt, it is because they put themselves in that situation.

Same with the running of the bulls. Take a chance, do something stupid, and you know you might pay a price.

The bulls and the horses aren’t given any choice at all, and they always pay the price.

If that is something essential in Spanish culture, it is certainly not something that makes Spanish culture look good. There were so many fantastic aspects to Spanish culture, so much beauty in that country, and I didn’t find any of it watching that bullfight.

I, for one, will think that much more highly of the Spanish people when they finally abolish bullfighting.

Of course in the news clip from the youtube video, one of the protesters is quoted very nicely saying that they were a peaceful protest. One of the anti-animal people was quoted as saying “they should be arrested!” And then you see a shot of one of the protesters being dragged out of the ring in a chokehold.

This threat of arrest is a bullying tactic. “Don’t rock the boat, or we’ll arrest you! It doesn’t even matter if you have done anything illegal!”

Anyway, kudos to equanimal. I wish I could read more Spanish!

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9 responses to “Bullfighting protest in Spain

  1. Mo July 10, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Ugh, an ‘activity’ that really tweaks me…I probably can’t write here the disgusted profanities I’d like to use. I can’t even watch the video…something in me is thoroughly repulsed and it almost paralyzes me with anger and pain. I’m with you when it comes to the people who are injured while antagonizing and/or slowly killing bulls…bully for the bulls – I applaud them. Stuff like this subject brings out the evil in me. They have no choice, but the people have every choice. I really hope the Spanish people can get rid of this…I’ve always been surprised the rest of Europe doesn’t pound them on it, as much of the rest of Europe is so animal-friendly. (or maybe I’m ignorant on that front?)

    Anyway, glad you’re keeping things like this out there…it’s easy to sweep it into the cobwebs of our consciousness because it’s so horrifying. Ignorance never changed anything, eh?!

  2. Deb July 11, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I’m not sure if the rest of europe is especially animal friendly. I mean, every country seems to have their moments of sublime and horrible. Spain is also the country that recently passed legislature giving “great apes” certain legal rights – there is debate as to whether that is the start of a bigger trend towards a change in attitude towards all animals, but regardless, I think the fact that the legislation *could* pass shows something important about the people. Can you imagine a politician in this country even presenting that kind of legislation? Let alone having it taken seriously, and getting passed… I think every country has quite a bit of this type of juxtaposition.

    And what it seems to come down to with these types of “sports” is culture, and what is found acceptable in any given country depends more on that than anything else. It is “tradition” and “part of the culture” and it is like that elevates it above all other considerations…thus many people will strongly resist any criticism of it, and will take it as a criticism of the culture as a whole. The fox hunting in england is the same. And here, we have rodeos! And circuses.

    I think this group did a great job with their protest. A simple clear message, they were entirely peaceful, the anger and brutality of the over-reacting police against non-reactive protesters was clearly captured by video cameras. This was in I believe the biggest most famous ring in Spain, so these were national tv cameras rolling, and it got a lot of air time.

    I’d hope that the protest and the way it was handled and broadcast on the news would get the issue into the minds of the Spanish people, and hopefully open the door for some honest reflection. I don’t think that there is any hope of anything but defensiveness if outsiders, people from other countries, tried to pressure the Spanish people into anything.

    Glass houses, right? Who are any of us to throw stones when we have so much work to be done right here? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Mo July 12, 2008 at 2:55 am

    My gut is reacting at this late hour so without pondering for eloquence, I will say that I think our country is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of inhumane treatment in general. (I hope no one comes after me with a bat or other weapon…remember, ‘the definition of patriotism is when, in a democracy, a country’s people question and challenge the mores or actions of it’s government’ (somewhat paraphrasing, there). Sure, there are many countries with far worse treatment of animals and humans, but the fact that we put ourselves above all others on the entire planet, yet we behave in barbaric, unthoughtful, and unintelligent ways, driven by money and power, that makes us the worst overall.

    In no way was I meaning to put down the Spanish nor elevate the US in my first post – sorry if it came across that way. And I certainly understand the importance of culture…Europe has a far richer history than we Americans can imagine…the depths of it are incredible, and thus their meaningfulness.

    I just reeeeally can’t stand bullfighting…. And when you mention “sports” – argh, I need to go take a blood pressure pill. I can’t even count the number of ‘discussions’ I’ve been in with hunters. It’s the ‘sport’ aspect that makes me mental, and I can’t seem to get that across to hunters. The idea of the length of time and intensity of preparation involved…to go and track an animal…so that you can kill it…so that you can show it off or brag about it…I cannot accept that as evolved thinking in any way. When one has to eat, one has to eat, and I do believe in the ways of nature (I tend to get emotional watching a lion, wolf, etc., track and kill it’s prey, but I understand the basics of having to eat to survive, and each species having it’s nutritional necessities, biologically driven, etc.). It’s the ‘sport’ that humans engage in that I have problems with, especially when those same hunters proclaim that humans are much more evolved and so are ‘better than’ animals (and have ‘dominion over’ – whatever!) – yet when I ask them to use their more evolved brains to overcome their hunter/gatherer biology, they stare at me blankly…and go back to preaching about how much good they’re doing for the animal population and people they share the meat with.

    Oy! See, this is why I haven’t posted in these other parts of your blog…I get very worked up!! And I have not come to the place you have, where you’re able to quiet yourself and use anger productively rather than let it devour you.

    (but it’s on my list of things to do.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m glad the protest was so positive! Cheers for you and all you do, always, Deb.

  4. Deb July 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    It always seems to me that just about every country could be seen as one of the worst in its treatment of animals, just because each seems to be equally bad, if in different ways. But overall I do agree with your first paragraph, that when a country that is clearly not better than others (like the u.s.) points fingers at others, it comes off as a hypocritical position with a fair amount of racism thrown in. When meat-eating Americans are all up in arms about other countries raising and eating dog meat, for example. Like it is actually more ethical to eat a cow or a chicken instead of a dog! And so, the racism aspect is made as clear as their hypocrisy.

    I don’t think that culture is an excuse for anything, but I also think that realistically when culture is involved or invoked in the justification of some type of abuse, the change has to come from within or the position just gets more and more entrenched through defensiveness.

    I agree with “sport” being a horrible way of describing these things. I can never come up with another word that fits. And of course it is the word that the hunters and bull-fighters use.

  5. Mark September 16, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I have just now returned from Madrid and had attended a Bull fight for the first time to try and see for myself what this sport was all about. I have an open mind and think I can handled most things in life but I am sorry to say that after just two fights I came out of the stand. It was not the Blood or the final depth of the bull which by the way was sad but the way which it was glorified and acted as Spain was fighting for suvival against an invader from another country. But what it rearly was that they were butchering a defenceless animal who was so tied and drained to fight for its own survival. Why in 2009 is this still happening and why aint the Spainish goverment putting a stop to this out of date so called sport. Dark ages, and this must be stopped. Please note that I am not a member of any organisation, I am a simple by stander that happened to experiance an event as us a Tourists sometimes do while they are on Holiday. By 2016 when the world will be looking that we can see an end date to this out of date blood sport.

  6. Deb September 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Mark, that’s a great question – why are these events still happening? Unfortunately it always comes down to money, no matter how people might talk about “culture” and “tradition”. Tourists like us (I did the same when I was there when I was 20) get suckered into going to bullfights thinking we’re seeing some integral part of Spanish culture, and instead are just horrified. Hopefully we’ll continue to get smarter (the ‘net makes information more accessible, which helps) and groups in Spain will continue to educate the people of their country with regards to these events.

    It takes time to change public perception, but hopefully things are changing in Spain. It can’t hurt to write to Madrid’s PR/Tourism department and let them know what you thought of the event though!

  7. lexi March 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    i hate that people could even do this to a poor defensless animal. i cant even believe that they could think about it. for me to think about it makes me angry, sad, and disgusted. I didnt even know that they killed the bulls untill now. i want to scream a huge list of profanities
    at anyone who thinks bullfighting is cool. if i knew anyone who tourchered a bull in the disgusting ‘sport’ of bullfighting i would tourcher them just as they did the bulls.
    i guess you learn things when you’re doing english homework.

  8. lexi March 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    no matter how disturbing.

  9. Deb March 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    lexi,
    kudos for reading up on a topic that is disturbing! It is hard to face these things – the sad truth is that there is so much cruelty and horrifying treatment of animals out there, to learn everything about it would feel quite overwhelming.

    Not everyone has the will to look at things that disturb them, so you’re a step ahead already.

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