Stop the Cruel Bullfighting in Madrid - The Petition Site

Friday, 16 October 2009
Stop the Cruel Bullfighting in Madrid - The Petition Site

Few Spanish traditions divide opinion as much as bullfighting. For every bull aficionado willing to defend their art there are ten who see it as just cruelty to animals and want it banned - yet still the practice goes on.

So which side are you on? Do the centuries of tradition, flamboyant costumes and fantastic shows excite you or do you see it as an anachronistic pastime that is no different to lion battling or gladiatorial duels?

Madrid and Andalusia continue to host bullfighting events throughout the summer. The stadiums are usually full, both with curious tourists and die-hard fans. The national Spanish TV network, TVE, shows bullfighting at prime time on its main channels.

In 2004, the Barceona city council passed a symbolic vote against bullfighting. The official argument against it was that it was cruel and that it had no real history in Barcelona, anyway - it was just there for the tourists. Critics have argued that the real reason behind the ban was to distance Catalonia from the rest of Spain. This was erroneously reported at the time as an official ban in Catalonia. I only discovered that bullfighting does continue in Barcelona when I walked past the Barcelona bullring and discovered there was a fight on that weekend. An official working at the bullring there and he had some impolite words to say about Barcelona council. He described the news stories on the ban as 'propaganda' and told me that there had never been a ban. He pointed to the ground and said 'here we are in Spain'; he then gestured to the ground outside and told me 'there is Catalonia'.


Bullfighting has existed for thousands of years and it has been popular in Spain for nearly a millennium, though some say it has existed in Spain since the time of Emperor Claudius two thousand years ago. With the rise of the animal rights movement, an ever increasing number of people have been critical of bullfighting, both within Spain and in the rest of the world. The number of websites in opposition to the activity far exceeds the number in favor.

Case AgainstAnimal rights activists argue that the practice is barbaric and that the animal suffers extensively during the ritual. They also differentiate between killing for meat - considered to be a necessity, and killing for fun.

Response to Criticisms

For a start, proponents of bullfighting point out that the animal is eaten afterwards, so the animal's death is not in vain. They also claim that the animal does not suffer greatly during the event - a good bullfighter will kill the bull efficiently. The strength of this argument is questionable - while the final kill is quick, the abuse the bull sustains during the fight is prolonged.

The idea that abattoirs always kill in the most painless and efficient way is a myth. With the number of bulls that die each year in bullfighting tiny compared to the number that die in the meat trade, the campaign against bullfighting is seen to be a waste of resources when there are far more animals dying in unfit slaughterhouses than in the bullring. Of course, the barbarity of abattoirs does not excuse cruelty of a bullfight. But it does suggest that a disproportionate amount of time is being spent on protesting against bullfighting when there are bigger animal cruelty battles to fight.

There is also an argument against the idea that we eat meat out of necessity and bullfighting is for 'fun'. The truth is that vegetarianism is a viable alternative to meat-eating and that all meat-eaters do it 'for fun'. Whether your fun comes in the form of a 20-minute visual spectacle or a juicy hamburger, some might argue the result is the same.

Where it Stands

The European Union shows no sign of stepping in to ban bullfighting. It even actively promotes an event in Coria where a bull is taunted in the streets. Such activities are deemed to be "traditions, customs and a centuries old culture".

It is difficult to gauge how many people in the audience of a bullfight are tourists and how many are local aficionados. But there is definitely a strong argument that if international public opinion continues to worsen and tourists stop attending, the number of bullfights may dwindle as organizers find the events to be no longer economically viable. We have a say in this NOW! The Olympics will be there in 2016. Please let them know how you feel about bullfighting!!


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