8 May, 2015 @ 21:36
2 mins read

Arguing about the bullfight

Juan Jose Padilla goring

bullfights downEVERY journalist feels that they have done a good day’s work then their writing stirs up opinion and provokes reaction, even if that was not necessarily their intention.

When I wrote a piece on Granada’s first corrida of the season a few weeks ago, I knew that it would provoke reaction, and I anticipated that most of that reaction would consist of disapproval, if not outrage.

I wasn’t wrong.

Once again, I was reminded that, much of the time, rational, informed debate about the corrida’s artistic merits, its morality and its place in Spain in the twenty first century is rendered impossible because of the hysterical vitriol of its enemies.

I know that this subject will always provoke heated discussion, and I welcome that.

I have been back and forth about the corrida many times over the years, and have great sympathy for some of the arguments against it. But with this crucial qualification: if they are put forward as arguments. Those opposed to corrida do their side and their case no favours when they resort, as they so often do, to mud-slinging, to personal insult and, not infrequently, to wishing violent retribution upon their adversaries.

Juan Jose Padilla goringAlexander Fiske-Harrison is a fellow Englishman and writer on the corrida who also trained with Juan Jose Padilla, a legendary matador who lost his left eye in a horrible goring in 2011 (amazingly, he was back in the ring just five months later, his eye patch earning him the nickname ‘The Pirate’).

Fiske-Harrison wrote for the Olive Press on the corrida in 2012  – but he went a little further than I did, arguing that meat-eating Anglo-Saxons are hypocrites for opposing it and calling for its prohibition. This is an interesting, nuanced argument that deserves attention and merits serious discussion.

Predictably, though, the tone was considerably lowered in the comment thread that ran beneath Fiske-Harrison’s article; and because he is an actual matador, his opposition had a whole new arsenal of censure to plunder. Here is a representative example:

“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.”

Before long, this crazed invective becomes familiar territory for anyone who writes in appreciation of the corrida. And sadly, it marks the point at which dialogue about morality becomes impossible – almost comically so. You find yourself, as someone who writes in defence of this centuries-old Spanish tradition, being charged with immorality by people who, sometimes in the very same sentence, declare with frothing passion their desire for a fellow human being to be disembowelled.

Clearly, many in the anti-corrida camp have some serious self-examination to do before they can enter the fraught, interminable debate about its moral status and its future.

Mark Nayler

Mark Nayler is a journalist and writer who has written for Spear's Magazine, The New Statesman, The Times and The Legal 500. He has recently relocated to Granada from London to write for English language publications covering the south of Spain and will be a regular contributor to The Olive Press.

A selection of Mark's published writings can be found on his website, at www.marknayler.com


  1. Here we have a “journalist” who’s avowed intention is to stir up emotional controversy and then quotes selectively from responses to his wind-ups in order to denigrate all who disagree. Ignoring of course, all well-considered arguments.
    A classic Troll in other words. At least snobby Fiske-Harrison really believes the nonsense he espouses, unlike his current herald, who does it for wages.

  2. Naylor calls himself a journalist. What a load of bull he writes. Great start to his “career” in Spain. Starting a new life in Granada with all the different sights and sounds. What does he choose to write about…bullfighting. Very astute. Ha ha.

  3. Marion, you obviously pay such great attention to the detailed contents of the article that you can’t even spell the author’s name correctly! And Stefanjo maybe the reason that you accuse the author of ignoring all well considered arguments is that no-one has yet posted one on this page! Maybe Marion would like to be the first do so as she obviously has strong views on the subject but very few words with which to express them.

  4. So,
    one of the irrelevent London chattering class is moving to Granada. I’ve seen these theorists faced with real life situations – they don’t handle them very well, in fact they tend to crap themselves.

    What a truly pathetic argument that ‘bull fighting is part of Spanish history’ FGM is part of west African history and culture so that’s OK then. Bear baiting, cock fighting they are OK as well.

  5. Stupidity isn·t fixable is it!!!! I doubt it in the case of Mark Naylor.
    Heritage, entertainment, art or religion never justifies cruelty.
    Menudo basura de gobierno,
    ayuntamiento y demas instituciones
    permitir fiestas con tortura animal.

  6. Well hello again Mr Nayler!

    I see you’re still believing and quoting people that consider themselves smarter than everyone else by comparing killing animals humanely for food to…. well… TORTURING THEM FOR FUN. I almost fell out of my chair when I read that you considered this argument ‘nuanced’.

    If you hadn’t before, I’m sure you have seen now that Olive Press readers are not stupid. Go ask El Mundo for a job. They’d be happy to have you there.

  7. Susan: It appears you have only just started on this subject here. It would pay you to look at the hundreds of intelligently written previous posts about this form of animal cruelty in Spain.
    Of course there weren’t any comments on this “page”, it’s only just begun.

  8. I put these issues in the same basket as Muslims stoning people to death, Jews sacrificing according to the bible. Life and the world moved on somewhat since these matters were first posited. Without doubt beatr bating was popular in London at the time that bullfighting was popular here, but we’ve all moved-on since then. Why can’t you?

    And please…. Bringing carnivores into the discussion is not only spurious but also desperate

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy e
Previous Story

PP file denuncia after Twitter user labels Prime Minister Rajoy ‘corrupt’

bankia needs  billion bailout spain according to stress tests
Next Story

Spain’s Bankia to sell off €4.8 billion worth of Spanish property

Latest from Mark Nayler: Our Man in Granada

albaicin e

Falling for Granada

There is a mystery about Granada, a soul and personality that has as much to do with its history as with the people who now
granada by night e

From London to Granada

Sometimes something in your life is not quite right, and a big change is called for. For me, that change was moving to Granada, one
Go toTop

More From The Olive Press