Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mad Rant: Battling for Bullfighting

As most regular readers know I am a big fan of the ancient sporting spectacle of the traditional Spanish bullfight. Although unable recently, this was the only draw for me to visit Mexico in recent years (where thankfully the sport seems safe enough for now) but it is obviously a sport most associated with Spain. So, it was with great sadness that I heard the (expected) news that the local government of Catalonia has become the first region in Spain to abolish the corrida de toros. There is probably nothing more culturally associated with the Kingdom of Spain than the image of the fierce fighting bull and the fearless, elegant matador. His Catholic Majesty King Juan Carlos is a proud supporter of bullfighting (as is HRH the Infanta Elena) and he once threatened to take Spain out of the EU if Brussels ever attempted to ban the sport. I suppose it never occurred to His Catholic Majesty that a Spanish government would beat the EU bureaucrats to the job.

Let me say, opponents of bullfighting should read no more -you will not like this and I am not trying to have a ‘discussion’ about it. I know it is not for everyone and I do not demand everyone to be a fan. I simply object to those opposed to it trying to ruin it for everyone else. Some people will never like bullfighting and I would not encourage just anyone to go see a match. Every time is different but, let there be no confusion, it is a blood sport. Bulls will be injured, they will bleed and they will die. There is always a chance a human will as well but that never seems to matter to anyone. Every match is different and I have seen some get pretty gruesome -I will leave it at that. So, this is certainly not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ as they say. I can certainly understand that. For those people my seemingly simple advice is; do not go, do not watch, do not give them your ticket money. Do not try to ruin the experience of others and destroy a centuries old tradition just because of your own personal squeamishness.

That being said, I am absolutely a fan. To me there is no greater ‘spectator sport’ in the world. The whole atmosphere of a bullring is impossible to describe. I love everything about it; the heat, the dust, the blazing sun, the blaring trumpets, the roar of the crowd and the outlandishly dressed bullfighters strutting the ring before facing down over a thousand pounds of charging death. The bullfighters (not just the matadors) are all men of great courage and agility (though I have seen some portly picadores but they are not really required to be agile in their job). As has long been said, bullfighting is not so much the test of a man and a bull but a test of a man and his courage. To me it is a beautiful thing, poetry in motion, the ultimate combination of strength, stamina, grace, agility, showmanship, quick reflexes and nerves of steel. I have never been a participant of course, but growing up on a ranch I have tangled with plenty of huge, angry bulls and I can tell you that standing perfectly still in the face of the business end of a charging bull is no small trick. Try it sometime.

Of course, the objections come from animal “rights” activists who deplore the cruelty and brutality of it all. Personally I think that, in itself, is a rather simplistic and barbaric way of looking at such an ancient and awesome ritual. Even in the style of bullfights wherein the bull is not killed in the ring, they are still killed afterward. Cattle are not exactly an endangered species and I sometimes wonder if these people are all militant vegans or if they just never stopped to consider where their hamburgers, meatballs or steak & eggs came from. I know the answer would be that it is the method that is the problem, but I for one find it far more grand and dignified for the bull to die in the ring, where he has at least a fighting chance, with the crowd applauding his strength and ferocity; going down in a blaze of glory rather than simply being bashed in the head with a hammer in an assembly-line style execution.

A Spain without bullfighting would be like a Spain without a monarchy - that is no Spain at all anyone would recognize. This is as much a part of Spanish culture as fox hunting and tea time is to the English -or at least was. Cultural globalization and the uniformity constantly being pushed by the people with “I love diversity” bumper stickers has already meant that bullfights are not nearly as common in Spain as they once were. Even in Catalonia where the ban was passed there was only one bullring still in operation. Even without the animal “rights” fundamentalists the grand sport and spectacle of Spain would still be endangered simply by the encroaching, crushing, bland, modern mono-culture that is descending on the world. And it all makes me an extremely, *extremely*… Mad Monarchist.

4 comments:

  1. I am reminded at this point of Tom Lehrer's In Old Mexico. Perhaps we should remember what he says about his dog Rover being run over (Rover was killed by a Pontiac, and it was done with such grace and artistry that the witnesses awarded the driver both ears and the tail!).

    And when the Matador raised his sword and slayed the bull, he suddenly knew... that someone had stolen his wallet.

    Sorry, I just had to bring that up.

    Considering that we are talking about Catalonia here, in which nationalist groups were basically using a bullfighting ban to mark their autonomy from Madrid, it is no surprise. I hear it all the time out here - that we need to be Australian, not American/British (funny that they'll never say "not Chinese". All things considered, I'd have a problem if we took after China too much).

    There is national identity, and then there is simply spiteful identity. This would fall under the latter (Australian republicanism too).

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  2. Many older peopel in Australia actually rmember when Australians proudly called themselves British. So do Canadians. But then, nowadays even the British seem to hate being called British, all in the name of Multicultural Diversity of course.

    I wasn't going to post in this particular entry but I think we hit on somethign here. This is mroe about creatign the much hyped Utopian world of a Liberal Secular Democracy with shared Global Values, derived of course form Humanist Philosophy, than i is anythign else.


    Bu to accomplish this you have to shatter past identities. How can I get you to be a good Globalist who is a Citesen of the World if you identify withthe British Empire? Or if your Spanish? Or French? As the Goal is to make the owrld fall under a single Culture and generlaly a single governance, Independant Cultural Identities must be eroded.

    Of coruse one may ask why not leave the Old Empires in Tact if they want a Global Unity? As Contradictory as this seems, cutting the world into smaller parts and vidivign huge EMpires is a faster way to acheive their goal, as this weakens the odler, existign Taditional Culture. They want to Erode anythign that holds you bakc from Embracign the new Iddntity they need you to Emrbace, be it your Religion, Your Family and Heritage, or your Nation and its Heritage. Australia can no longer think ogf itself as British because, despite the Obvuosu Fac that Ausatralian Culture is an organic continuation fo British Culture which is even adopted by Immigrants, if Australians thogth of themselves as British, or even as a Culture derivced from britain, they will assume that sort of an Identity and not the Identity of the GLobalist Culture.

    Its been a rather obvious attemto to erode Traditional Cultures, FOster worldwide Revolution (Nowadays mainlythrouygh Civil CHanges than Armed Confict) and to repudiat eour past, or better yet make us forget it, and then, they can step in and tell us what it means ot be Australian, or American, or French.

    And its surprisingly similar, beign French and beign Spanish. Or beign French and beign American. Or beign Chinese and beign British. Becuase they too have ast aside the ld and EMbraced the New, whih is good because, as bad as a Shared Identity is when its Traditional, its good when its "The Brotherhood of man". And as the new Philosophy is set befgore us as common sence, well w'd be fools nto to go for it, it sinevitable, and that the truly Evovlked poerson always goes for.

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  3. A new aquaintence of mine, someone I offended inadvertantly on IM because I made fun of the French ( I make fun of everyone, I just have a Contrarian personality and odd sence of Humour, I seldom mean much of what I say in IM, to clarify) noted the same sort of Pattern exists in Americanism as in GLobalism, ad its hte same Tactic. The NeoCons have simply copied the liberals Tactics to get their dreamed of Utopia, which is only better in that they limit it to the 50 STates and the Territories. They want America to be for Americans. They want Mexica Culture, FLags, and symbols not to be displayed, and for the Immigrants ot be Proud of America or to get out! They want English as the Official Language and for everyone to Embrace what our FOundign Fathers gave us! Nevermidn that mostof what they beleiv ein, like Term Limits for COngress, were never part of the oriigonal intent of the FOudners either, nor did the FOunders understand America as a Unicultural place, they have an ideal of America hase don the Rockwellesque picture they have of the Midwestern Vlaues of COmmon, workign AMericans.

    As a Result, places like Louisiana are attacked because, while the Cajuns are American Born, they don't "Accept American Culture and Values". Many speak French or a French Dialect. They have Parishes not COuntues. There laws are base don Roman Law. The Creole Culture is so different form the Whitebread typical Midwestern Culture that gosh, its not American! So they want to make it go away as bad as the Liberals do.

    And for the same reaons. This is really the result of the Democratic thinking. Democracy only really works when everyone has common Values and shared references. Thats why Repubics only seem to be stable in small, Relatively Hmogenous Natiosn like Sweden (Officially a Monarhcy) or Switzerland ( A Democracy). Thats why France has few current Social Problems. Thats why Immigration is a magor problem for Modern Europeans, as it erodes that Homogeny. (But does quicky erode their Culture too, hence why Liberals love it.)

    Besides, they feel more empowered to demand that other peopel comply to their will and wishes. The Democratic Midnset is one that gells us to obey the Majrity, and as the Percieved Majority of Americans have "American" Culture and "American " Values ( Really is California the same as Tennessee? ) They want rid of those French speakign wierdos with there oddball Traits. They shoudl have abandioned that a long time ago!

    Sadly this is also the thinkign elswhere. The whole thing is based on creatign a balanced society in which ther eis an overarchign Value system, because otherwise there are challenges to the assumptions.

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  4. Me? I support highly bullfighting, fox hunting, and cock fighting. Since I live in America and raise chicken cock fighting is close to home. My chickens don't kill eachother and I would never stop two roosters in a tussle as long as it didn't get two dirty. I think it's so cool how they puff themselves up! Yet I am a proponet of keeping and legalizing all these sports (especially cockfighting!)

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