Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bullfighting ban: a hollow victory

Amidst the fanfare of reports and headlines, international observers forgot to report that yesterday's Catalan "ban" on bullfighting means very little in terms of animal welfare.

Yesterday's decision by the Catalan Parliament to ban bullfighting in the Spanish autonomous region was met with glee and satisfaction around the world.

For people like those behind this blog, the Catalan ban on the corrida can only be saluted. Torture and death inflicted on an innocent animal for no reason other than "tradition" and "entertainment" are nothing but an aberration - especially in the 21st century.

Many hope (and others fear) that the ban in Catalonia may rub off on the whole of Spain, finally bringing bullfighting to an end.

And yet, a point that the excited headlines failed to pick up is the dark shadow that hangs over the ban on the so-called fiesta taurina. A ban that, it turns out, is an astonishingly hollow victory.

This is why.

Opponents of the ban (stemming mainly, but not exclusively, from the Spanish right) regularly point out that, barring a few genuine animal rights activists, the law is backed by the Catalan nationalist parties (Convergencia i Unió and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya) purely as a means to stoking anti-Spanish sentiments. In other words, it has little to do with the welfare of animals and all with playing up the difference between Spain and Catalonia.

Until today, I put this approach down to the pig-headedness and spitefulness of Spain's conservative Partido Popular (which - if you're new to Spanish politics - are way to the right of the Conservatives in the UK).

Then I discovered that in certain parts of Catalonia there is indeed another "traditional" fiesta which is even crueller and more monstrous than the old corrida. The Catalans call it correbous and, in many of their towns, it's considered a major celebration.

Look away if you can't stand cruelty to animals.

Because the correbous consist of setting a bull's horns ablaze in front of thousands of onlookers and a merry background of fireworks and firecrackers. The bull is hemmed in within the perimeter of the town's main square as all access passages are fenced off, which is how the torture (or "game", according to the same Catalans who frown upon bullfighting) unravels. The result is an agonising animal running around terrified - sometimes even for hours on end.

Now, courtesy of the Catalan nationalist parties, the law that yesterday put a ban on bullfighting did not include the correbous. Not only that. The same catalanists who backed the anti-bullfighting campaign were very vocal in defending the right to set bulls' horns on fire. Convergencia i Unió even tabled a Parliamentary motion which would officially "safeguard" the correbous in the name of "collective interest"!

Their justification? Staggering though it may sound, they too cling on to "tradition". Which is to say, the same lame argument that supporters of bullfighting bring forward each time the morality of their beloved corrida is questioned. "Without bulls there's no party and without party there's no people": that's how a Catalan nationalist MP publicly defended the correbous a few months ago.

Perhaps, simply, the word "hypocrisy" does not translate amongst the people of Convergencia i Unió and other Catalan separatists.

When you consider the hideous double standards, it becomes apparent that bullfighting was banned purely as a hated symbol of "Hispanity".

Because in the warped mindset of Catalan nationalism, animal cruelty is bad if it comes from the other side of the backyard, but not if it's of 'their own' variety.


Anonymous said...

tradition and entertainment, thats eating meat baby.

Stan Moss said...

No dig at the Spaniards in particular as we have our own foxhunting shame to condend with.

But a 'show' or 'celebration' or 'pastime' that is based on cheering on an animal being slowly tortured can only be explained through the old concept of fucked up power trips.
Correct me if I'm wrong: how is that different from a group of chavs torturing a cat "for fun" or because they're "bored", or a serial killer dribbling with pleasure as he holds his own victim captive?

Absolutely fucked up that is.