Some people say that bullfighting is a sport. Nothing could be further from the truth. To taunt and continually provoke an animal that has been placed in an arena from which it cannot escape, until it is slaughtered by the matador to the loud applause of a paying public, is not sport. Instead, it is a barbaric form of warped human entertainment.
Sport is embedded in an ethical philosophy that stands for fair and respectful competition that rewards the winner. Sport has evolved scientifically, as participants embark on a never-ending quest to improve their skills to ensure that they can beat their opponents and win. However, to beat the opponent in a fair and honest way lies at the very core of the competitive battle. And that is why doping and match-fixing in elite sport can never be condoned and should carry the penalty of a life ban from the sporting arena.
There are many stories about what happens to the bull before the actual fight. In short, the bull endures a two to three day ‘pre-match’ process of torture in a dark confined enclosure in order to weaken its capacity and dull its senses, especially its eye sight. The torture is also used to enrage and stress the bull, to ensure that it is in a ‘fight mode’. It does not have the opportunity of ‘flight’.
While I may not have a deep understanding of the traditions of bullfighting, my total abhorrence of cruelty to captured animals is due to (a) my deep respect of nature and the interconnected fabric that exists between all living things (of which man is only a part), and (b) the necessity for fair and honest play in any competitive exchange.
Last weekend a matador was killed in the ring. In terms of the sporting metaphor, he tragically lost the match. While this was not sad enough, the bullfight did not end there. In a bizarre ritual (if a matador is killed), a witch hunt is carried out to find the bull’s mother who is then slaughtered in order not to continue the aggressive bloodline. Such irony. In line with the dominant, patriarchal nature of the culture in which bullfighting is embedded, no action is taken against the bull’s father. Why not? No record may be kept of which male is used to fertilize the female. But maybe the non action against the father of the bull further reveals the warped beliefs and ideology that underpins the thinking of those who are involved in the world of bullfighting.
Talk about matador bravery and dominance of beast reflects the simplistic, power-driven and arrogant perspective of all those who are involved (matadors and public observers). For me, bullfighting has a powerful, yet sad message to all of us: It reminds us of (a) our barbaric past and how cruel we can be, (b) our need to use brutal force and power to dominate nature (and others), and (c) our actual lack of evolutionary progress in the way we relate to all living things.