24 Sep, 2012 @ 16:02
6 mins read

I’m taking the bull by the horns, insists British bullfighter

alexander fiske harrison

By Alexander Fiske-Harrison

WHEN anyone mentions bullfighting to Anglo-Saxons, most seem to lose rationality, all sense of proportion, all sense of irony even.

I mean, how else do you explain the fat British tourist outside Flaherty’s Irish pub in Sevilla, who told me he liked it when the matador was gored, with a greasy half-eaten beef burger in his hand?

And it’s not just red-faced expats who fail to see the irony.

One Radio 4 journalist told me he had a passing interest in the subject because ‘nothing cheers me up in the morning like reading that a matador has been gored to death’.

Well, let me tell you, I am a matador and this sort of attitude greatly upsets me.

Why is there so much anger at the Spanish ‘fiesta nacional’ when us Anglo-Saxons have long liked a bit of violence – from Shakespeare to Hollywood movies?

We love watching violent films and we don’t mind cattle being killed for our stomachs.

We kill almost four million cows a year in the UK; a number that is almost ten times as large in the US.

And this is despite the growing obesity crisis and medical advice now insisting that red meat is nutritionally negative in value.

And then, of course, is the fact that the 1.5 billion global herd of cattle – which weighs more than the global human population – produces almost a fifth of all climate change gases.

The answer is that very British sense of fair play. The theory goes that a bullfight is not a fair fight. It is unsporting. It is not cricket.

Well, indeed it’s not. Nor does it pretend to be. Allow me to explain.

There are a whole host of misconceptions about bullfighting, and the biggest one of all is the name.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison

The bullfight is not a fight at all and the word in English actually derives from our own spectacle, illegal since 1835, of ‘baiting’ bulls with dogs.

What goes on in Spain is called la corrida de toros, ‘the running of the bulls’, and the name comes from what happens in the spectacle: a man makes a bull run past him using the large cape, capote or smaller and more famous red one, the muleta, before killing it.

He is the matador, which means ‘killer’,  and the men within the ring with him are called toreros, which means those who torear, the verb we mistranslate as to fight the bulls, but is actually to wrangle or play – in the sense of angling – with the bulls.

There is no winning or losing for bull or man in a corrida, this is not a sport and points are not awarded. There is simply nothing to be fair about.

Ultimately there is a script – think of it as a play or a ballet – and it must be followed, no matter what. If the matador is injured, another takes his place.

Part of that script also involves the picador mounted on an armoured horse with a lance, and the banderilleros with their barb-pointed sticks.

These individuals often lead to the claim that the matador could not face the bull one-on-one.

The answer is simple: he could. Any matador can face and kill a bull within a matter of minutes of entering the ring.

However, it would not be done bravely, or cleanly, or elegantly or, and this is the most important thing, with emocion.

As with any theatrical spectacle, the audience at a corrida wishes to be moved, not just impressed, and certainly not to have some sort of bloodlust sated.

To understand this, you have to understand what the Spanish aficionado, is looking for.

There are two things the aficionado hopes for in a good corrida: In the bull, he wants to see the personification of wild, ferocious nature: the bull must be powerful and charge readily and continuously.

In the man, he wants to see the embodiment of the civilised virtues: courage, dexterity, stamina and elegance.

People want to see him go through a book of dance-like manoeuvres – derechazos, manoletinas, molinetes, and trincherazos, to name a few – and they want him to do them with grace.

In order to be able to ‘dance’ with the bull like this, it must be reduced from its initial fearsome proportions. This is done using a lance and an armoured horse. This sounds brutal because it is. If this is a theatrical spectacle, it is one with a ritual sacrifice at its heart.

The picador uses a lance and the weight of his horse to tire and damage the bull, highlighting the bull’s ferocity and fortitude, while also bringing its head down and reducing the range of movement of its horns so the matador can get closer.

The bull leaves this encounter diminished, and then chases after the banderilleros with their barbed sticks, all of which annoys him further.

Those who are against bullfighting like to focus on these parts of the corrida: the bull is ‘stabbed with spears‘, ‘bleeds half to death’ etc.

The first part of this claim is true, the second part false. From a veterinary perspective, a bull has over 60 pints of blood and can lose 15 of them without adverse affects. The spectacle may be bloody, but it isn’t even close to 15 pints of blood.

Which explains why, of the 533 famous professional toreros who have been killed by bulls since 1700 – and an unknown but certainly greater number of amateur toreros as well – so many were killed at the end of the fight, after the lance and banderillas.

Nowadays, courtesy of modern surgical techniques, deaths are much rarer. However, the gruesome injuries are not, hence my own teacher, Juan Jose Padilla is now working as a matador with just one eye. The risks are very, very real.

It is this ‘reality’ that aficionados claim as the fight’s greatest asset. Everything happens out in the open, in sight.

There have long been those who say that this claim isn’t true. The League Against Cruel Sports and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) list all sorts of nefarious practices, most of which are simply untrue.

For example, rubbing Vaseline into the bull’s eyes before the corrida would be suicide – its ability to distinguish the cape from the man and chase only the cloth is all that keeps him uninjured.

Then there are the accusations of horn shaving: the idea being that removing an inch from the tip of the horn, and then sharpening it again, somehow makes the bull less accurate and the torero safer.

This definitely used to go on, although it has always been illegal, but now the law is strictly enforced. What is more, how much difference it makes is hard to fathom.

Bulls charge at you, so the horn will get you, and whether it does an inch sooner or an inch later makes no difference I can think of.

This, the great Manolete found out in 1947 when a bull with shaved horns killed him, sending Spain into mourning for a national hero fallen.

Which brings me to the last bit of propaganda I read all too often: that bullfighting is in terminal decline. It is simply not true and in 2007 there were 2,644 official bullfights in Spain – more than ever before.

This number has since fallen off, but in a way which mirrors, not exceeds, the decrease in expendable income in the country. For comparison, West End theatre in London has suffered a similar drop in attendance figures.

Similarly, there is an often quoted Gallup poll on this that says 72% of Spaniards have ‘no interest in’ – note no interest, not ‘are against’. This poll is from 2006. What is not mentioned is that that poll-figure decreased to 68% in 2008, which is the same figure as 2002, which is also the same as in 1992. Decline? What decline?

The most recent poll of all was conducted by Metroscopia for El Pais. It said that after the ban on bullfighting was voted for by the regional parliament of Catalonia in 2010 – which was purely cosmetic as only 1% of Spain’s corridas were held there –  57% of people across Spain said they are against the ban, even though 60% said they didn’t ‘like’ bullfighting. Meanwhile, 37% said they were active aficionados.

So, it looks like bullfighting is here to stay whether we like it or not. So get off your high horses and look at the hypocrisy of opposing it… and perhaps get out there to watch.

‘The bulls feel no pain’

Fighting bulls are raised free range to over three times the age of a meat cow, and then killed within 25 minutes in a ring while in full fighting mode, giving it all the adrenaline and attendant hormones the body produces to suppress pain and maintain fury. The most important of these are the internally generated opioids or endorphins. They are the reason, for example, that soldiers often report being shot in combat as a painless experience, at least at the time of injury.

Fiske-Harrison’s book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight is available on Amazon.

Eloise Horsfield

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  1. Bullfight cannot be compared with killing animals for food, bullfight is torturing of animals, and bulls feel no pain, that is completely crazy. Mr Harisson dos not know what he is talking about, shame on the olivepress to that they keep publishing this nonecense.

  2. It’s as though you think all British tourists are fat, have red faces and eat greasy burgers – that’s similar to saying the Spanish are all imbeciles like Manuel from Fawlty Towers. At the end of the day most people, regardless of stereotypes, will always support the underdog which in this case is the bull. I wonder how many of these tough guy matadors would do the same with a Rhino or Tiger…

  3. Actually bullfighting is very comparable to killing animals for food.

    1. The bulls are actually used for food afterwards.

    2. The food you eat has been mistreated worse – tortured in livestock conditions – than the bulls that are raised for sport.

    You should watch a video, read a book or perhaps work at a slaughterhouse if you want to see what the animals you eat go through before they end up on your plate. It is worse than the sport bulls, that is for sure.

  4. Alexander – “I mean, how else do you explain the fat British tourist outside Flaherty’s Irish pub in Sevilla, who told me he liked it when the matador was gored, with a greasy half-eaten beef burger in his hand?”

    I realize that the meat I eat comes from an animal that has been treated worse than a sport bull. Yo may have seen that a lot of my comments support yours; they make the same points you make. I still like it when a matador is gored. I also like seeing people get knocked out in boxing. That’s part of the game when you get in a ring with an angry animal; sometimes the animal wins.

    It may not technically be called a “bull fight”; you can call it a “ballet dance with a bull” if you want. But excuse me if I (literally) laugh when I see a matador get gored after prancing around in women’s clothing like some kind of a sword-wielding peacock. Not because I hate the matador or because I think bullfighting is “evil,” but simply because that’s the way I interpret the sport. You’ve got a grown man dressed as flamboyantly as he possibly can be, dancing around an angry animal and acting very proud of himself. How is it not funny when the bull gores him?

    Even if another matador comes out afterward and finishes the bull off – even if no one ‘wins’ in a bullfight – if I were the bull I’d consider that a small win. The bull was trying to gore him, he got him, so he won at least in that moment. I think it’s fine for me to enjoy that part just as much as the aficionado enjoys the bull-ballet.

    That being said, you’re completely right about the fat British tourist eating his hamburger and criticizing bullfights. Unfortunately I don’t think you are going to get through to anybody regardless of how much you write about it; most people are moral infants and they base their ethics on their immediate emotions. Killing bull sad. Eating hamburger happy. Nowhere in the ethical analysis is the animal’s actual life – or quality of life beforehand – considered.

  5. Er.. This guys well behind the times!!! At least the young Spanish are growing up against it in huge numbers. Just kill the thing if you want it dead.. use a gun.. don’t make a spectacle of it.

    It seems he really believes the tripe he writes.

  6. “And then, of course, is the fact that the 1.5 billion global herd of cattle – which weighs more than the global human population – produces almost a fifth of all climate change gases.”

    Death by methane! Now thats innovative!

    Seriously now, let me break a lance here for the Toreador. There is a certain beauty in watching a man/woman (there are women toreadors as well) dressed up in all the paraphanelia, be it the “traje de luces” or be it “de corto” that goes with the corrida,and I, for one, would not stand in the middle of a ring or a street in front of charging bull, elephant or rhinoceros for that matter. I dont think anyone would question or at least acknowledge that you have to have the guts to do that, but, and I stress the but,for me, the beauty is only at the beginning, with the Capote. After that I am afraid I would much rather switch off or change the channel. Nowadays I cant even watch that, knowing full well what comes afterwards.

    I dont like to see either the animal, and much less the man get killed for the sake of a spectacle, however “traditional”, pardon me, I’d much rather watch 22 grown up men running after a ball, the adrenaline gets just as high, and the only ones that suffer are those left sitting on the bench.

  7. Pathetic justification for a cruel and barbaric act. We are supposed to be civilised human beings. There is and never will be any excuse for the prolonged torture of live bulls either in the bull ring or disgraceful brutality such as the Toro De La Vega, absolutely shameful.

  8. One of the main difficulties the author is facing here, is the complete unwillingness of many of the above posters to acknowledge any of his points. Typical British attitudes, of we are right, everyone else is wrong.

  9. Just to clarify, this is an edited version of my article. For example, I am not a matador, I was a torero, The bulls have pain-suppressing hormones in their systems but quite clearly often feel pain in the ring, the question is one of levels. It is always hard as a writer to defend my writing when neither the editors nor the readers seem to pay attention to the arguments themselves… (with the exception of Angus Ritchie above. And the rather inhumane ‘Reality’ who would seem to want to see the odd slaughterhouse worker fall in the grinder for fun.)

  10. Incorrect Angus. I have seen many different aspects and read many different opinions on bullfighting to ensure I consider all arguments for and against and nothing will ever convince me it is acceptable. The pain in the animals eyes in photographs and videos on you tube etc is plain for all to see. It is not about being right and being wrong it is about basic respect for other species. Man is not the be all and end all and does not have the right to destroy life at will in a barbaric manner. What goes around comes around, I wouldn’t like to be a matador when it does :-)

  11. Another arrogant public school prat – now how would he feel about taking on another man with a sword who came into the arena fresh.

    Angus, the p/prat said Anglo-Saxons not Britons who are Celts – your a disgrace to the Scots – go back to school wally.

  12. Trudy, the reason you can see pain in human’s eye is the vast number of muscles we have there to allow us to communicate our pain to each other by wincing. Bulls don’t have these, so the only thing their eyes ever communicate is where they are looking. You are simply projecting. The real pain behaviour in bulls is the same as all animals – running away. And fighting bulls in the ring almost never do…

  13. Let us agree that both meat-eating (and the wearing of leather and using animal products etc etc), and bullfighting, are all things we should endeavour to stop. They do not advance mankind in any way whatsoever. This is nothing to do with “British attitudes” – it’s human attitudes that are the issue.

  14. Diane (and many others),

    The point I make, that so many so blithely ignore, is that we butcher millions of terrified cattle every year in abattoirs for meat that we not only don’t need, but that is actually killing us, and for leather which is an infinitely worse fabric than dozens of synthetic replacements. To then turn around and call what happens to these much older cattle, after much better lives, in twenty minutes in the ring “barbaric” isn’t just laughable, it’s a bit sick to be honest. Like slave-owning plantation bosses in the old South of the US gathering on the veranda, looking over their cotton fields, and spitting with drunken venom about how awful Chinese sweat shops are. The level of lying – to yourselves and others – is utterly unforgiveable.

  15. If you are indeed British, then you should feel ashamed. The British are traditionally animal lovers.NOT TORTURERS.Baring the few idiots that have not Evolved! Of which you seem to be one.
    Tie as many bows around it as you like. But to enjoy watching or taking part in the suffering of an animal is EVIL! You said yourself that this culture dates back to the dark ages,Well that’s where it belongs! Can’t you see the wickedness in your actions. If you must fight why not fight another man on equal terms. I’ll tell you why! Because your opponent would be equally dexterous, mentally and physically, and not easily tricked! This is not culture it’s an excuse for barbarism. As for the bulls not felling pain. this statement shows your desperate scramble for excuses.

  16. Alex, why can’t you just bring yourself to say that you find eating meat AND bullfighting to be both objectionable, and that both should stop happening. But of course you can’t say that when your Amazon sales rank needs boosting eh?

  17. @ Fred

    No, neither is wrong. They are animals and not very bright ones at that. Do you use fly spray? Do you wear leather? Where do you draw your line? I know where I draw mine, and have written on improving welfare standards for great apes, for example, for the Financial Times. All i am doing with bullfighting is pointing out that the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ as the Spanish refer to all English-apeakers are hypocrites. If I wanted to make money through book sales, it would have been far easier than this intellectual version of pulling teeth. I could have used my unprecendented access to the world of the bulls to writea book against it.

    @ Keith

    No, not fun. It is more important than that. But in a general sense of entertainment, that is exactly why we eat meat we don’t need to and wear leather as well. Which I’d bet makes you an evil b*st*rd too.

  18. The picador stabs the bull with a lance to sever sinews in the neck, only then the toreador steps in, slowly torturing the bull to death. Any comparison with modern slaughter houses is inappropiate, as cows are first electrically stunned before being killed, hence the animals experience no pain. The only exception are Jewish and Islamic slaughter houses, where the animals are killed by cutting their throat, they bleed to death. Nomadic tribes in the Middle Eastern desert used this method. Hunderds of thousands of animals in Europe are painfully slaughtered only to satisfy religious demands.

  19. @ John

    If the torero (toreador is a term from opera) “only… steps in” after the picador has used the lane on the bull, then what on Earth is Morante de la Puebla doing in the four photos that open my blog post here? http://fiskeharrison.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/my-talk-at-the-edinburgh-international-book-festival/

    Perhaps you would also like to read on to the passage I quote in that talk at the Edinburgh Festival from Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent book ‘Eating Animals’, where he talks about the millions for whom the stun gun works incompletely or not at all, their faces peeled off while still conscious.

    Face the facts, don’t make them up or ignore them. Even the animal rights philosopher, Mark Rowlands, in a savage review of my book in The Times Literary Supplement said that the life and death of a fighting bull is most likely better than that of a meat cow.

  20. Ahhhh you never said how involved you were in bullfighting Alexander. This ‘sport’ is SICK and should be banned! Criticising meat eaters who speak out against bullfighting just doesn’t wash! WHY KILL THE BULLS! This is like talking to racists! Utterly pointless!

  21. @ Derek

    I would have thought saying I am a bullfighter was pretty damned clear.

    As for your question “Why kills the bulls?” You tell me. You pay people to kill them for meat which you DON’T NEED. Vegetarians live longer. You are killing them for pleasure. Face the facts. Meat has a nutritionally negative value. Hundreds of millions of cattle are being killed for your entertainment – just because you don’t watch it, instead you eat it, do you think that better? How? Why?

  22. ALEXANDER.. and REALITY.. (although the latter is just out for trouble)

    I DON’T agree with your arguments at all on this forum re: bullfighting (and DON’T value your opinions at all) and it’s MY opinion (that I hope others agree with?) that, even as a meat eater, bullfighting is a DISGUSTING so called ‘sport’ that should be resigned to the history books!

  23. Alex, you missed the point completely. I asked you if you would agree that we should stop all activities that harm or exploit animals? Would that not be the most ethical thing to do? You’ve therefore just stated that you are totally unethical.

    A person who wears leather but who opposes bullfighting still has more ethics than you do, since they have a conscience about it, and you don’t. So, I’m glad you answered in the way you did since it confirms my suspicions that you are an unethical attention-seeking egomaniac.

  24. @ Fred I addressed the point quite clearly. You make an assertion that killing cattle for entertainment is unethical. I, along with the vast majority of humans throughout history including today disagree. This article is about particular methods and reasons for killing. On the overall subject of killing animals, I believe they differ sufficiently from humans in their mental lives such that bringing those mental lives to an end for a whole variety of reasons is not unethical. Those reasons differ and narrow with the richness of the animal’s mental life.

    @ Derek. What I offer is not an “opinion”. I asked a question. What is the radical ethical difference between these two methods of killing animals for entertainment? Or are you claiming that killing animals for the flavour of their meat which it has been clinically proven we do not need to eat is somehow NOT killing them for entertainment?

  25. Alexander

    if you can’t see that cheering when an animal is killed is wrong then you need to seriously think about what you’re saying. You’re obviously not open minded at all about this. and look at the size of your picture on here… WTF! haha

  26. @Derek If your issue is with the people cheering then your issue is with the morals of the audience, then it has NOTHING to do with animal welfare – you think the animals care? – which is exactly what I was saying. As for the virtue of the audience or wanting to watch it – I somehow don’t feel here is the place. I was talking about WELFARE above.

    As for open-minded – I devoted years of my life to studying this. When someone writes something new, which they bothered to research for more than ten minutes on the PETA website, then I’ll listen.

    For example, on the subject of research, even rudimentary research into how these newspapers work would tell you that the journalist does not write the headline, did not select the picture or its size.

    In fact, if you even bothered to read all the comments, you’d know that parts of the article were not written by me either. I never wrote that I was a matador – a profesional qualification I do not have – nor that bulls do not feel pain.

    So, tell me again, why should I be open minded to what you scrawl on here?

  27. You are all giving this bull-stabbing berk exactly what he wants, namely, attention. As for the utterly specious argument comparing killing animals for food and killing for entertainment, it’s simple, two wrongs don’t make a right.
    To repeat a previous assertion, this guy holds such a high regard of himself, because no one else does. Pathetic.

  28. Alexander – “No, neither is wrong. They are animals and not very bright ones at that. Do you use fly spray? Do you wear leather? Where do you draw your line? I know where I draw mine, and have written on improving welfare standards for great apes, for example, for the Financial Times.”

    Just to clarify – what exactly is the line that you draw? Great Apes? What about dogs or cats? Is it ethical for me to eat a dog? Can I shoot an elephant?

    How would you feel about actually dueling another person with a sword? Ethical or unethical, if both parties consent?

    For me – I’ve got no real problem with bullfights, killing a fly, wearing leather, eating dog, shooting an elephant – or dueling, were it legal. However, the most moral is actually the latter. None of the animals we use – be it for sport or food – can consent. Yet, two human beings can consent.

    Derek – “I DON’T agree with your arguments at all on this forum re: bullfighting (and DON’T value your opinions at all)”

    Derek – “You’re obviously not open minded at all about this.”

    I don’t know how you could accuse him of not being open-minded when you just flat out said, yourself, that you have already closed your own mind to the opposite position.

    “Be open minded towards me, while I simultaneously tell you my mind is closed to your arguments and I also do not value them whatsoever!”

  29. Fred – “A person who wears leather but who opposes bullfighting still has more ethics than you do, since they have a conscience about it, and you don’t.”

    You wouldn’t actually say someone has “more ethics” but “more morals.” Ethics being the system, morals being the product of the system.

    Also, what you’ve essentially said it is that it is okay to do something bad if you feel bad about it, but it isn’t okay to do something bad if you don’t feel bad about it. A person who wears leather – but thinks “oh I feel bad that a cow died for this” – is more moral than a person who thinks “a cow died and I don’t care, I like my belt.” Even though it is the same cow; same death; same belt.

    If we take your argument to its logical conclusion, a person can kill another person as long as they feel bad about it, but if they don’t feel bad they cannot. The former murder is actually more moral; simply because the person feels bad. Even though, in actuality, the consequences are the same.

    So it all goes back to emotion. You feel bad, thus immoral. You feel good, thus moral. You should look up Lawrence Kohlberg and his stages of moral development; this would be a sort of underdeveloped morality. He called it the first “conventional” stage; one that is the hallmark of primarily of adolescents, but also adults who simply never develop past it. It is the third lowest stage out of six on his scale.

  30. “You wouldn’t actually say someone has ‘more ethics’ but ‘more morals’.”

    Not if they were referring to their personal ethics. Humans are emotional creatures ruled by their hormones and chemical balances. Taking your comments to their logical conclusion, there is no right or wrong behaviour. That is a possibility, but not one I personally believe in. Are personal ethics personal, or is there a larger ethical conscious at work? I hope the latter.

    In any event, Kohlberg’s work is massively flawed. I suggest you acquaint yourself in the areas of narcissistic and egocentric behaviour if you want to understand bullfighting (and chronic, long-winded, over-posting on blogs as well).

  31. @ Reality

    Non-human animals, at least the vast majority, cannot “not consent” either. The notion makes no sense. If it did all systems of animal ownership would be deeply unethical. So the addition of a consent element to the system does not make more ethical, it alters the whole system as there has been a category change. Watching gladiators, consenting or not, has obvious moral ramifications of a different order to watching a corrida or animals kill one another in nature documentaries (the best-selling product of the BBC btw). I would argue the Circus Maximus jeopardised our very humanity, whereas as to, e.g., feel the thrill of the hunt is to yield to it.

  32. I know its an oldie, and some may be too young to remember but let’s all sit back a while and watch “Ferdinand, the bull who didnt want to fight” by Walt Disney. You can google it and find it in Youtube. Will bring a smile to your face, forget the agro! Cheers!

  33. Alexander – “Non-human animals, at least the vast majority, cannot “not consent” either. The notion makes no sense. If it did all systems of animal ownership would be deeply unethical.”

    I thought we were talking about killing animals – not just owning them? Because a mutually beneficial relationship between two animals is quite a bit different than raising one specifically to kill it (be it sport or food). A sport bull is treated better than livestock. An expensive toy dog is treated better than a dairy cow. So it isn’t just animal ownership, but many factors – quality of life, specific owner treatment of the animal, intent of owning the animal, intelligence of the animal, etc. The issue is specifically the animal being able to consent to partake in its own suffering and death.

    And saying that something cannot “not consent” is actually saying the exact same thing as it “cannot consent”. You still have some thing that lacks the ability to consent. There an absence of consent in all conditions – regardless of ability to give or decline consent. That is why humans are unique – they have that ability, whereas it does not exist for the typical animal.

    Alexander – “Watching gladiators, consenting or not, has obvious moral ramifications of a different order to watching a corrida.”

    What are the moral ramifications of two consenting adults battling to the death – and why is that less moral than killing a cow? You can’t just say they are obvious; it’s just reasserting the conclusion. And let’s not look at the Roman model either (since we’re not in Rome two millennia ago), since it was often slaves or non-consenting individuals forced into it. If you have two men – right now in Spain – who want to have a duel to the death in a bull ring – why would that be more ‘wrong’ than the Spanish bullfight?

    I would also note that you did point out that the best-selling BBC documentaries are those wherein animals kill each other. I think if we had televised duels they would outsell anything else. I wouldn’t rely on “it’s the best selling x” as a pillar in your argument if you you aren’t in favor of duels on TV. You’d have more people watching duels than football.

  34. Kev – “What are you playing at as a Brit getting involved in all this?!!!”

    Keith – “If you are indeed British, then you should feel ashamed. The British are traditionally animal lovers.NOT TORTURERS.”

    This is the attitude that makes the British fail at living in Spain. It’s why they show up, struggle and end up going home. Not morality, or superiority, or anything so specific – just “oh no, that’s not British!” The failure to cope and accept that something is different even if you do not like it. It’s why half of the articles on the Olive Press are about Brits who failed in Spain, are currently failing in Spain or have already left and gone elsewhere. Even half of the people who post comments here have said, one time or another, they’ve already moved someplace else, but still read and post here.

    It’s like if you’re a fundamentalist Christian and you move to Saudi Arabia and get mad because they practice Islam. Welcome to a different culture with different values.

  35. My husband is Spanish and he had watched bull fights on television all his life, that was until he actually went to one and felt sick at what the reality of it was. Most Spanish people seem to ‘accept’ it as they haven’t been to see one, and if they did they they would be against it. My husband is a hunter, he shoots to kill not to maim and cause suffering.

    Shame on Spain for continuing this barbaric torture of animals. It’s not as though Spain isn’t good a real sport is it, football, tennis, golf, basketball. Why focus on something which actually shames the majority of Spanish people? Shame on those who sit back and accept it on television as it causes those to believe that it’s acceptable when it actually isn’t.

    If it’s such a historic thing why don’t the French bring back the guilotine?

    It’s something which needs to be banned, and if Spain is to get a bail out from the rest of Europe maybe Spain needs to wake up to what is acceptable in the eyes of the rest of Europe? ie, Spain wants your cash but doesn’t care about your rules or laws….. a real fingers up to the rest of us as per usual from Spain.

  36. Lucy – “If it’s such a historic thing why don’t the French bring back the guilotine?” Actually, were the death penalty still in place, it would probably be a better way to go than a lot of the more “humane” methods practiced in the USA. However, you’re comparing humans and bulls. And criminals versus innocent animals. So, it’s kind of a classic example of a fallacious analogy.

    Lucy – “Spain is to get a bail out from the rest of Europe maybe Spain needs to wake up to what is acceptable in the eyes of the rest of Europe?”

    If Spain wants to be a part of the Euro – it needs to accept and work within European fiscal policy. That doesn’t mean it needs to “do what is acceptable in the eyes of Europe.” Spain shouldn’t give up any cultural heritage due to external pressure. If it is going to ban bull fights, it needs to be done internally – by the Spanish – not by self-righteous foreigners who show up and can’t handle the culture shock.

  37. ….. somewhere soon.. a bull will gore its tormentor..(search it on you tube as it’s, thankfully, already happened a few times) lets hope the tormentor himself dies a slow painful blind death watched by their (if they have any) loved ones… If a human being can inflict an injury (whether or not it apparently causes pain or not) for whatever the reason, in front of people (paying a lot of money – wages) then I hazard a guess they are quite sad lonely people and a bit ‘sick’ in the head. Something obviously happened to them in the childhood that even they may not realize that they need to torment helpless animals.. whether that’s killing a Bull in a ring. Maybe their parents abused them.. there must be some horrid reason that they then torture animals for whatever the reason.

  38. @ M Hawkins

    A typically stupid and ignorant comment. 533 famous professional bullfighters have died in the ring since 1700, multiples of that of unknowns and amateurs, hundreds of thousands of injuries… “some day soon” indeed. My friend, Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez was a child when his matador father Paquirri was killed by a bull. Cayetano is now one of the most famous matadors in Spain. 15 million Spaniards, if the polls are right, are fans of bullfighting. We’re they all abused as children? At least read the goddamn article before you drool on the comments section.

  39. @ Reality

    Sorry if I was unclear. The inability to consent and the failure to consent are very separate things. An animal not giving consent is irrelevant to the ethics of a situation it is in, thus the situation can not be “better” which you claimed by replacing the animal with a consenting human, it is simply different. You are being drawn to the false analogy that fighting an animal is like fighting an unconsenting human, which is a situation which would be mitigated by the addition of consent. The crossover between the ethics of human combat and animal combat rests only at the level of suffering, not free will

  40. Alexander – ” An animal not giving consent is irrelevant to the ethics of a situation it is in, thus the situation can not be “better” which you claimed by replacing the animal with a consenting human, it is simply different.”

    Fair enough. This is known as moral relativism. It wouldn’t be “better” to duel a consenting human. Just different. I could invent any type of moral problem and then say, well, the two are not the same; thus they are simply different. One has no moral superiority over the next. We can replace a bull with a gorilla; have a gorilla fight. Or a bull with a human and have two humans fighting. It wouldn’t be worse. Just different. You still haven’t really explained why it would be more ‘wrong’ to have two consenting human beings duel than to have a man do the bull-ballet. However, if you’re a relativist you don’t have to. You can just say it is is different and that is that.

    Alexander – “The crossover between the ethics of human combat and animal combat rests only at the level of suffering, not free will.”

    Consequentialist ethics. So, the less the suffering the greater the ‘good.’ Using a hypothetical situation, I could raise 1 gorilla in wonderful conditions, sit him down, execute him quickly and that would actually be more ‘good’ than the corrida. Simply because the degree of suffering – the instantaneous death – is less.

    Alexander – “You are being drawn to the false analogy that fighting an animal is like fighting an unconsenting human, which is a situation which would be mitigated by the addition of consent.”

    There was no analogy at all – much less between fighting an animal and a human. We’re comparing two completely different (as you noted) situations – the bull-ballet and a duel between two human beings. It isn’t an analogy between the two. If you’re a relativist, neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – both are just fine. But if you feel a human duel is worse in some way I’d like to hear the explanation for that.

    If I am mistaken – and you are not a relativist (even though the “they are just different” is a key tenant of moral relativism) – why would two consenting adults dueling be more ‘wrong’ than the corrida?

  41. Who at The Olive Press has let this BRITISH person actually write this ‘article’ about this sickening current (for not much longer hopefully) sport? and then talk at length defending his right to kill. DISGUSTING!!

  42. The public school prat would be delighted to take on a fit, well trained swordsman – like the immature boys who join the army and think it’s all going to be exciting and glorious and then lose control of their bowels when they see comrades blown to pieces and turn and run.

    My uncle Eric would have loved to have this pompous prat under his command – he’d have broken him in days.

    Fred – as much as the coward annoys me at least he does’nt pretend to know everything about everything unlike the troll.

    However I think your description ‘confirms my suspicions that you are an unethical attention-seeking egomaniac’ and
    chronic, long winded over posting on blogs is absolutely spot on.

    I just can’t imagine it ever having useful employment – in fact we never were told what it’s ‘work’ was but it had to principally include lots and lots of verbal poo.

  43. “My uncle Eric…” It reminds me of the person on another, linked article whose argument was based on his late father’s knowledge of the bulls. Not much to say for yourself…

  44. … When a bull.. and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later, rips your intestines badly and beyond repair so much so your, brain, as limited as it is with IQ, will realise that life is slipping away, and that because of your cruel, vindictive actions, hopefully, you will feel the pain that you so willingly inflict. I wait with anticipation of the news of your demise. 15 million supporters of something so barbaric, does not make it right. Every living creature that goes about its normal natural business deserves to live on this planet. You have no right to do what you do

  45. “http://www.league.org.uk/content/312/Bullfighting”

    If you can, please donate. One day it will be banned. It’s inevitable. But all donations will bring that day forward.

  46. I hope you die horribly too M Hawkins.

    As for readers donating their money to repressive lay ban an indigenous cultural tradition with all the Imperialist arrogance of a latter day Rhodes – how about you take a breath, go to my blog http://www.thelastarena.com and READ a little…

  47. M Hawkins – “Every living creature that goes about its normal natural business deserves to live on this planet.”

    I don’t think you understand livestock. They don’t actually have “normal natural business.” All of the animals we breed for sport or food have been bread for generations to be specifically domestic, livestock animals. They are no longer “natural” or “wild” animals. It isn’t as if they are caught or trapped.

    The “natural business” of domestic beef cattle consists of being raised until it is just old enough to be profitable for slaughter; it walks around in a field, may be confined to a small area and then it is killed. That’s its whole life. The domestic beef cow wouldn’t even exist if human beings had not been breeding them for centuries. It’s like saying the “natural behavior of the French Poodle.” These animals are human creations that we’ve been modifying since the advent of animal domestication, some 10,000 years ago. If you released them into the wild they would just die.

    So there no “normal natural business” like you would indicate if you were referring to a wild animal like a baboon or whale. Their entire lives – and existence – are human-guided.

  48. Like I say people.. please donate. The sooner the day comes the better for all living creatures! Catalans have banned it… even Argentina has banned it..along with countless other countries…. It really is, thankfully, only a matter of time before Spain proper follows suit.

    This is well deserved… “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owm4HiufDiI” (Not suitable for minors!)

    This one.. well.. it’s just class… “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK7LW_mW5h4”

    …. and you wish for me to die horribly too? Do you mean by being teased tormented and speared to death? Surely not

  49. The website entitled visit.guide-spain.com shows various places of interest throughout Spain, such as bullfighting events, the running of the bulls, churches, monasteries and cathedrals. They have requested comments on these places for their Facebook page, so comments condemning bullfighting, the running of the bulls and fiestas involving animal cruelty could be made. Also comments calling on the church to condemn these atrocities could be made on the church, cathedral and monastery pages.

  50. see you fell into the trap ‘I hope you die horribly too M Hawkins.’

    I bet the Spanish bullfighting supporters (not the majority by the way!) have really taken you in their arms! A British person who really loves bullfighting!

    I agree with other posts… SUCKER!!!!

  51. Can you explain your British roots a bit more for us all if you’re coming on here talking this much please, also when you came to Spain and if you’ve got any Spanish relations

  52. In Alexander Fiske-Harrison’s book it explains that ‘When he kills his first and only bull he feels not triumph but overwhelming sadness for a life taken’

    Is anyone else really f****** angry by this person?

  53. I wouldn’t put my name on any shady petitions. It’s pretty clear the Spanish people are going to eventually ban bullfighting. British individuals just make themselves look close-minded and ethnocentric by thinking that other cultures – other countries – should conform to their moral standards. When the Spanish ban it, fine. It will be a result of a change in Spanish culture internally – not due to ethnocentric external pressure.

    How long have the British been crusading around the world attempting to foist their morality upon other cultures, by the way?

    Privacy International ranked the United Kingdom #1 as far as privacy violations and lack of personal privacy. Compare to France or Spain, where recording non consenting individuals in public (even by police) is often illegal. Perhaps some Spanish and French crusaders need to go up north and teach the British about human rights.

  54. “British individuals just make themselves look close-minded and ethnocentric by thinking that other cultures – other countries – should conform to their moral standards” ??

    They aren’t just ‘British moral standards’ – It’s most of the decent folk around the world standards…. It wasn’t that long ago we chased poor little foxes around the countryside on horseback and with packs of dogs rip them apart. We’ve banned that by popular demand and common sense. It was outdated and cruel, as is, Bull fighting.

  55. Allow me to give my thoughs on this article:
    The writer has half a point when he says that people who condemn bullfighting and eat beef are being hypocrites. As the wellfare of most of the cattle killed for their meat is still not up to scratch, chances are the animal whose meat you eat has suffered during its life (not enough space, daylight, boredom, stress, etc.). Unless you have bought biological meat. Nevertheless, meatcattle have not been tortured and are killed humanely. It is debatable which animal has suffered more, the bull that is actively tortured for 30 minutes or a cow that has suffered from bad circumstances for years. That’s why you should eat less meat and only biologically produced meat.
    The reference to violence in Hollywood films is irrelevant, as we all know it is fiction. The writer talkes about what Spanish aficionados like to see in a good bullfight. All the ‘civilised virtues’ the spectators want to see can be achieved without torturing and killing the bull. In fact, it would even be a bigger feat to display the virtues (courage, dexterity, stamina and elegance) opponing a bull that has not been handicapped. It would take much more stamina, courage and dexterity from the matador! The writer says the corrida asks for a theatrical ritual sacrifice, and so contradicts his earlier statement about what the public wants to see. He gives no further explanation or justification about why the bull has to be tortured and killed.
    Furthermore, he admits the bull has to be speared “In order to be able to ‘dance’ with the bull …, it must be reduced from its initial fearsome proportion”. E.G.: Otherwise the matador would have no chance, not so courageous then is he? So it remains an unfair fight, but the matador turns around the advantage with the help of the picadors.
    He then dares to state that the bull has had a great life and then has to fight for 25 minutes during which he feels no pain (sorry but that’s how I read it) because of adrenaline and most importantly endorphins. I am not an expert on stresshormones in animals but last time I checked, adrenaline does not last for a very long time, and endorphins are released AFTER an animal has been in a fight-or-flight situation that HAS ENDED. Obviously the fight situation the bull is in never stops until the bull dies, so endorphine is never generated. Furthermore with regard to the comments Alexander writes that the bull does not run away, well he quite obviously can’t flee the ring can he?
    Summarising what I think about the writers arguments: a load of BULLSHIT!

  56. @ Irene

    Fairness has nothing to do with the corrida – nothing. Neither are the words fight or sport ever used in Spanish. Saying it would be more “fair” done differently is like saying you dislike Hamlet because the odds are stacked against him. As for the fictional nature of Hollywood: yes, but the entire output of the BBC Natural History unit is not.

    As for the pain of the bull, as I said, I did not write that “quote” – however, as you say, “last time you checked” endorphins are released after fight-or-flight. When did you last check? Because fighting bulls are INVARIABLY swimming in them every time they are autopsied, which is often.

    Finally, my article was of finite length, so I can not go into depth, about why real death is necessary, or how any bullfighter could easily kill a bull uninjured as it leaves the gate but there’d be no show – it is disingenuous to claim that everything could be covered in anything short of a book, which is what I wrote.

    However, beyond that, do you not think it the very height of arrogance to approach a centuries old tradition and say in a few scrawled lines, ‘ not only is this wrong, but I could make it so much better,” having, it would seem, to have ever seen it or read about it beyond this one 1,200-word article.

    Bullshit, indeed…

    @ M Hawkins

    Ignorance getting the better of you again? There are more foxhunts now than per-ban. “http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/8872182/Why-fox-hunting-is-more-popular-than-ever.html”

  57. I agree Reality. Spanish have to ban this so called sport not Brits trying to. However the person writing this tripe is a British person who should never have got into this sickening way of life. He’s on a cold hearted mission. F*** tradition. What about gladiators… continue that ‘sport’ shall we. This writer should be banned from this website! egotistical ****** (I’ll leave this starred to call him what you will).

  58. Ignorance getting the better of you again? There are more foxhunts now than per-ban. “http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/8872182/Why-fox-hunting-is-more-popular-than-ever.html”

    Don’t believe everything you read… They try to say Fox Hunting is still going on, but we all know it’s just the toff’s way of making out they wasn’t defeated.. In a way, I miss them.. I used to follow them and spook the horses til they threw their riders (I know, a bit cruel, but if it saved a fox and no horses were hurt!) One (hunter) had quite bad head injuries.. did I feel bad.. NO.. I was just defending a living creatures right to be on this planet… Fox hunting will NEVER return. Bull Fighting will be BANNED (already is in most parts) Just because something is ‘centuries old’ doesn’t mean it’s right or should continue..

    Like I said before. I reckon some people must have be badly abused as a child and don’t even know what their own parents were truly like. Blocked it all out and take it out on animals instead… Shame really

  59. I know I do. Various causes actually. Mostly the innocent and or those that can’t voice for themselves. More of champ than you will ever be.. Now.. go chat with your parents. Ask why you are like this? (They must be so proud of you – or at least, that’s what they tells you)


  60. Just hearing they might be banning bullfighting in Mexico City at the Plaza Mexico soon, one of the world’s biggest bullrings. Hopefully this will spell the start of the demise of this disgusting so called ‘sport’ over the world! I’m fine with it if it’s something to read about in history books! Eat a steak whilst saying ‘I’m so glad this is dead!! hooray!’ as if… Philosophise all you want! haha. How dull is that listening to you – let’s pray for Mexico!!

  61. Sorry torture boy (TB™). I think I just used capitals saying ‘torture boy’ & they were omitted. I’ll let you carry on your studies of glorifying torture to whoever wants to read then lengths of torture you write so positively about…

  62. Hi there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
    say I really enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same
    subjects? Thank you!

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