They say a picture paints a thousand words – but what exactly do we see, or think we are seeing?
I chose this image to prove how mistaken we can be, and how duped by the media we often are.
‘The Kiss’ – It’s beautiful isn’t it! Here we see a young man kissing the mouth of a bull that is only minutes away from death, an image that would melt anyone’s heart. And an image that subsequently flooded the media portrayed as ‘a protestor who fought his way to the bull to show his love and solidarity.’ But what you are actually seeing, is a young man saying a final farewell to the bull that he raised from a calf – now grown, he is willingly offering him up to a horrible death for the sake of his country’s tradition.
Only yesterday I was having a conversation about this very topic. It is one that is very close to not only my heart, but millions of like-minded people across the world. Last weekend we saw Spaniards (including many other nationalities) in their thousands, take to the streets of Madrid to demand an end to the centuries-old, barbaric and highly controversial tradition of bullfighting.
Is Spain finally listening to the Spanish people, or has it been shamed into action?
The Madrid protest came after the anti-bullfighting lobby had successfully managed to obtain a ban on a famous, yet horrific festival which ultimately ends with a bull being brutally and mercilessly speared to death. A young calf was also shown in the news recently being subjected to this inhumane treatment of a defenseless animal. I didn’t however, watch the video as it went viral – frankly, I couldn’t bear to.
In June of this year, the regional government of Castilla y Leon, banned the killing of bulls at town festivals, in a move that targeted the northern region’s controversial Toro de la Vega festival where men on horses chase and torment a bull before spearing it in front of onlookers. Most of whom revel in the spectacle.
The Madrid protesters held up banners that read: “Bullfighting, the school of cruelty” and “Bullfighting, a national shame.”
A spokesman for the Party Against the Ill-Treatment of Animals (PACMA) said it was “time to end bullfighting and all other bloody spectacles. Bulls are like us or any animal – equipped to feel joy, sadness and pain – and yes… they suffer too.”
One protester was quoted to say: “Bullfights are a national shame and if they represent me and my country, then I am no longer Spanish.” While a resident of Madrid, marched outside parliament holding up a banner saying: “Bullfighting and the Bourbons should be in museums,” – in reference to Spanish Royalty.
It is difficult to not feel revulsion at the way in which these animals die.
Less than a week after the last bullfight was held in Barcelona 2011 which followed Catalonia’s vote to ban it, Madrid opened with 25,000 people cramming the Las Ventas bullring, the most prestigious in Spain. The excitement was shared in the royal box by Princess Elena, daughter of King Juan Carlos, and her two children, Victoria, 11, and Felipe, 13.
What we know now… THEY knew then
Five years previous, Spanish state TV stopped showing bullfights to spare children the gore, but here were youngsters witnessing in person the bloody slaughter of not one, but SIX beautiful creatures in a row. Some would argue (royalists and conservative politicians I’m guessing) that they were simply performing their royal duty by showing their contempt for the decision by the parliament of Catalonia to abolish bullfighting for ever. If The Vatican failed to abolish this five hundred years ago, then we have had five hundred years of ‘knowing’ this is wrong.
Back then, The Vatican threatened both bullfighters and spectators with excommunication unless they obeyed, but just as today – The King took no notice. But before you bow down to Religion, the only reason the Vatican wanted it banned, was because of the harm that could come to the Bullfighters… not the Bulls.
In February 2013, Spanish MPs voted to consider giving bullfighting a ‘special’ cultural status – a move that would overturn regional bans on the age-old tradition. In a 180-40 vote, the parliament backed a petition signed by 590,000 people. The idea – to roll back the ban in Spain’s regions of Catalonia and the Canary Islands. Not forgetting the provisional tax break hand outs to promoters of bullfighting.
The Spanish Government, the people, The King, and anyone who has a pulse, KNOWS that this was wrong then, and that it is still wrong today. We are not peasants in the streets of days gone by watching executions as a form of entertainment. We are (supposedly) intellectual people living in an advanced environment as an advanced form of civilization. ‘Civilized’ being the operative word here.
“It’s high time we started acting like it, don’t you think?”
I have heard numerous ‘for’ arguments such as – jobs would be lost, land would become uncultivated where the Bulls would normally be held, even the fact that a breed would become extinct if it were to be abolished. Considering this breed was bred for this purpose alone… to die a torturous death – it’s not much of an argument really is it. As for jobs – if we are talking about the matadors who are nothing more than colossal show-offs dressed in sequins rather than a butchers apron, who long for the adoration of the crowd – I guess they will be joining the queue along with the rest of ‘unemployed Spain then.’
There are currently 2,000 fights still being held every year across Spain. With on average, six bulls being sent to their slaughter each time… You do the math.
“Animals are not ours to experiment on or abuse for entertainment”