Thread: Bullfighting
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Old July 29, 2010, 06:46 PM
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Gonna miss this lovely bloody unholy ruthlesness in the name of sport.

Spanish Bullfighting: Beginning of the End?
Animal rights activists claim Catalonia's ban will influence other regions to ban bullfighting, but some say it's a classic sport that isn't going anywhere. .By Jennifer Viegas
Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:45 PM ET
3 Comments | Leave a Comment PrintEmailFacebookTwitterDiggYahoo! Buzz..THE GIST
Animal rights activists believe Catalonia's bullfighting ban is the first step towards the end of bullfighting.
Politics played a role in Catalonia's decision, due to a long-standing history of autonomy there.
The debate on bullfighting continues since many Spaniards and tourists still support the practice.

enlargeBullfighter Julian Lopez performs in the bullfighting ring at the Monumental on July 18, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Click to enlarge this image.
Robert Marquardt/Getty Images

An innocent bystander gets gored in the butt by a bull during a street fight.
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Yesterday's historic parliamentary decision to end bullfighting in Catalonia has some speculating that this is the first step toward a national ban of the practice in Spain, or one that could eventually lead to a bullfight-free European Union.

Catalonia's bullfighting ban, which will go into effect in the northern Spanish region Jan. 1, 2012, is the second such judgment passed in Spain. The first occurred in the Canary Islands, which voted to end bullfights in 1991.

Animal rights lobbyists, who had run advertisements in Barcelona, appeared in debates, met with politicians, collected petition signatures, and organized group events, indicated their victory yesterday was only one step nearer to their overall goal of eradicating what they believe is a cruel sport.

Douglas Batchelor, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said, "We are thrilled that Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting and hope that this will influence other Spanish regions to follow suit."

He added, "We look forward to working towards all remaining bullfighting regions putting cruel sports firmly in the past as Catalonia has done."

In a released statement, the World Society for the Protection of Animals has also pledged it "will continue to push hard for European Union condemnation of the practice," which "goes against the European Union's stance on animal welfare."

The WSPA is confidant it has the public's support against what the organization says is "a sinking industry which is being propped up against growing opposition."

PETA, in its own statement yesterday, pointed to a 2009 Gallup survey that found "76 percent of Spaniards have no interest in attending or supporting bullfights."

Not everyone, however, is convinced that the end of bullfighting is near.

Anthony Cascardi, a University of California at Berkeley professor of Spanish who is also the director of the Townshend Center for the Humanities, was in Spain last month. He said that bullfighting arenas in Madrid were packed with enthusiastic fans.

"I do not think Catalonia's decision signals the beginning of the end of bullfighting in Spain," he said, explaining that the autonomous community, one of 17 in Spain, has always marched to a different drummer.

The Spanish constitutional court, in fact, recently voted to limit Catalonia's autonomy.

Some political analysts, such as Deutsche Welle editor-in-chief Marc Koch, think "the bullfighting ban can be clearly interpreted as a regional response" to this prior verdict. Koch mentioned that Catalonia did not include a ban on the tradition of bull running, the correbous, in its bullfighting ban legislation.

According to Koch, "Bulls are very rarely killed in these bull runs, but neither are they treated humanely."

Cascardi said the tension between Catalonia and the Kingdom of Spain surfaced even after Spain won the coveted World Cup.

"Catalonia wanted to enter its own teams into the competition, so when Spain won, there was dissent in the region with many withholding their enthusiasm," he said. "There is a very long history of fierce regionalism, with resentment toward the central power in Madrid."

Beyond politics, Cascardi holds that outside of Catalonia and Barcelona, which he likens to "progressive, liberal San Francisco," numerous Spaniards still feel bullfighting is a tradition that must be preserved.

"Bullfighting is spectacle, theater and performance," he said. "It's humans versus what is symbolically perceived as the most brute form of nature. Supporters think far more cruelty to animals takes place in countries like the U.S., with its many factory farms."

Whether or not Spain or the European Union will eventually ban bullfighting remains to be seen. It's clear, though, that the debate will continue, even in Spain's royal household.

King Juan Carlos is a well-known bullfighting fan, but Queen Sofia recently said, "Making a bull suffer in the plaza for the public's enjoyment while a few people do business? Let them do what they want, but I won't share it."
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