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June 28, 2012: Bullfighting, a tradition of torture

Originally posted on this blog.

Any sport that involves using animals, whether they are killed or not, is best avoided. It is, once again, our arrogant side, our side that doesnít really care for or respect other animals, that makes us feel that since we are able to make them participate in sporting events for our pleasure, we should. Bullfighting and other blood sports which involve animals being hurt or killed are highly unethical activities that should be relegated to the past.

Defenders of this tradition give many reasons why it is acceptable. Some believe that we are humanizing the bull too much, that itís just an animal and that we, as humans, have the right to impose our will on animals. This is an archaic belief, based on a lack of compassion for the evident suffering that an animal feels in situations such as this. The fact that an animal is not as intelligent as we are does not give us the right to exploit and abuse it. We should strive to be caregivers of animals such as these, not their executioners. A bull is a sentient being, one that feels pain and suffering. Acknowledging and respecting this is the correct approach.

Another reason that defenders give is that bullfighting represents a fair fight between the bull and the matador. The matador has as much of a chance to win as the bull. This is not true. The "contest" is organized according to our rules, in our arenas, with humans controlling all the elements of the fight. The bulls are often drugged, parts of their horns are sawed or chiseled off, and other modifications to their bodies are made in order to make them less dangerous. Thus the fight is far from fair.

Supporters of bullfighting often say that if it were not for the sport, the beautiful bulls used in bullfighting, the "toros de lidia", would die off. Ethically speaking, this logic is obviously flawed. If one truly respects and admires an animal, one does not encourage its torture and killing in the name of sport. This is just common sense. The bull in question exists in greater numbers because of the existence of bullfighting, true, but the majority of these bulls face the prospect of being slowly tortured to death in the arenas of Spain, France, and parts of Latin America. There is no reason for these animals to die off completely without bullfighting. The only thing that would die off is the prospect of torture and death. When bullfighting is relegated to the past, as it has been in several places around the world, the beautiful creatures can be raised in controlled areas, on a much smaller scale, and can truly be admired for the majestic animals that they are.

Bullfighting is a long-standing tradition in many parts of the world. In Spain, southern France, and some other countries, one of the main arguments in favor of bullfighting is that it is an important part of the local culture and that, subsequently, getting rid of it would mean losing a big part of this culture. We agree that bullfighting is a big part of Spanish culture, and, on a lesser scale, a part of other cultures as well. The important thing to remember here is that a tradition thatís based on cruelty is not a tradition worth keeping, no matter how long it has been around. Historically speaking, there have been many traditions that have encouraged violence, suffering, and death, that are no longer with us because the culture where they occurred progressed to a level where it was no longer seen as acceptable. Itís time that countries like Spain recognize that the cruel violence present in bullfighting has no place in our modern times, and take steps to ban this blood sport. Besides, the countries where bullfighting occurs have so many other strong, cruelty-free traditions on which to focus, that it wouldnít be missed.

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