Preserving an Art

Bullfighting in Spain once enjoyed the status of a celebrated art form that sparked national pride from the farthest flung regions of Catalonia to the distant shores of the Canary Islands. At the height of the Spanish Empire, conquistadors and crown monarchs throughout the centuries expedited the cultural diffusion of bullfighting throughout Spain’s vast imperial holds from Peru in the New World to the Philippines in the Orient, but today the traditional spectacle enjoys only a fraction of the popularity and prestige it once held. Animal rights activists compare the sport to be no less barbaric than cockfighting, and many consider those who enjoy the sport to be inhumane monsters, cheering over the torture and death of an innocent animal. In modern times animal rights activists have spearheaded the movement to ban bullfighting throughout Spanish provinces and former Spanish colonies, forcing the hands of many provincial governments to outlaw what had once been an ancient source of pride for many Spanish nationals. Bullfighting had once been synonymous with Spain, romanticized by cultures all around the world. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Smolyar’s Rink of Red, and even the television show Dou Niu. Yao Bu Yao? in Taiwan (Literal translation: Do You Want a Bullfight? albeit it is a Chinese drama about good looking basketball players), to name a few of the examples of admiration for the blood sport from non-Spanish cultures. Bullfighting in Spain constitutes an important part of the historical and regional heritage of the Iberian peninsula. Despite the waning popularity, there is still great prestige associated with the art, and denying the people who consider it an essential fabric of their cultural identity the enjoyment that the sport brings them and has brought their ancestors for centuries, would be equivalent to denying Americans the right to shoot fireworks on the Fourth of July or play baseball. If people enjoy watching bullfighting, then they should be able to watch it because bullfighting is an ancient form of entertaining that millions of people throughout the world love to watch, and in a modern world that advocates individualism and personal freedoms above all else (actually just NATO-bloc regional bodies. ASEAN, OPEC, EAC, etc. all tend to value community before character, but Spain is in the EU).

The international community has established UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) as the premier authority on cataloging articles of the globe’s collective history to be of exceptional significance to the heritage of humanity, and UNESCO has declared bullfighting to be a World Heritage in France. France! Not Spain! Before researching that sentence, many Americans would have been ignorant to the fact that bullfighting even existed in France, nevertheless that it would be considered more important to the cultural foundation of mankind than the art in Spain, where it is renown throughout all corners of the globe. This is because many argue against preserving the art form in Spain due to animal rights activist, but humans, worldwide, kill millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of animals every day while feeling no remorse at all. A child would zap ants by the hundreds, processing plants slaughter livestock by the thousands, fishing vessels suffocate marine life by figures great enough to deplete the ocean’s bountiful resources, yet the vast majority of the Earth’s population feels no remorse about any of these things in the slightest. Every can of tuna a cat owner buys, every hamburger somebody eats, every magnifying glass a parent gives to his child supports the killing of animals on a scale too massive for the human imagination, but many of these same people argue that something far more integral to a nation’s cultural identity should be banned for lesser reasons. The number of bulls killed since the vestigial beginnings of bullfighting dozens of hundreds of years ago can not possibly surmount the amount of cows killed because of the meat-processing industry in a single day. More than 35 million cows annually are slaughtered for their meat. Are male bovines inherently more important than female bovines? Should animal rights activists argue that the lives of bulls are precious yet still occasionally make a trip to the Golden Arches, then women’s rights activists should give them a good talking to. The bulls grow up on farms, are taken care of, ensured to be healthy, strong, and to offer a good fight. Much less can be said of those forced to live in the vast agricultural complexes that house cows by the thousands in far more inhumane and disturbing conditions. After living a pampered life enjoying the finest pastures, these bulls face a noble, honorable death, and then their meats are sold or given to charity as some of the choicest cuts available to the culinary world. Even Native Americans had to kill animals to survive despite their utmost reverence towards all living things, and the way the Spanish treat their bulls would do the Cherokee nation much satisfaction.


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