Bullfighting: Culture vs. Morality


The Topic

Bullfighting. A popular sport and form of entertainment in Spain that dates back to 711 A.D. Bulls are tortured and killed for the sake of entertainment on a yearly basis – estimated numbers are 40,000 bulls annually. However, this is only in Europe – with Latin America included the numbers rise up to over 200,000 bulls annually.

The conclusion of a Spanish bullfight is almost always the same: The matador plunges his or her sword between the bull’s shoulders, puncturing the animal’s heart and killing it.

Those who advocate bullfighting often present a variety of reasons in support of the practice varying from false equivalencies to the slaughtering of animals for meat production to the economic impact if the sport were to be banned.

Recent polls suggest 81% of Spaniards have no interest in bullfighting (2016). Activists such as PETA (including the U.N.) have put forward a motion to ban children from attending bullfights. Bullfighting’s days are thankfully numbered due to the sustained pressure.

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An Overview of Bullfighting

Before the fight has even begun, the bull suffers terribly in order to weaken the bull. Just to create a visual, here is what they do to the bull: wet newspaper stuffed in its ears, Vaseline rubbed into its eye to half blind it, cotton stuffed into its nose to hamper respiration, and a caustic solution rubbed onto the back of its legs to prevent it from sitting down as well as hampering the bulls balance (Bullfightin: The Facts 2017). Sadly, that is not all they have to endure before being slaughtered. Laxatives are placed into its feed to further weaken the animal and it is kept in a dark box before the fight, as soon as the box is opened the bull charges for the light and into the stadium where odds are it is to be ritually slaughtered for the enjoyment of the crowd (Bullfighting: The Facts 2017).

The actual fight is separated into three “acts” or parts meant to run for approximately 20 minutes. The first sequence of events begins with the picadors on horseback tiring the bull further and using bladed weapons roughly eight inches long and two inches thick called pica into the bull that cause gaping wounds and can result in the bleeding to death of the bull. Then the assistant matadors plunge banderillas, harpoon-like weapons, into the bull. The final act is where the matador kills the bull, this is meant to be done in the most efficient way possible but often tends to prolong the suffering often requiring a further thrust into an artery near the bull’s heart. The bull can take a further three minutes to die (Bullfighting: The Facts 2017). In addition to the cruelty endured by the bull, horses may be injured by the bull in the initial act. Many of these injuries are so severe that often the horse will be put down.

The Main Argument Against The Sport

“Cock-fights and bull-fights, the chase of the hare and the fox, fishing, and other amusements of the same kind, necessarily suppose a want of reflection or a want of humanity; since these sports inflict upon sensitive beings the most lively sufferings, and the most lingering and painful death that can be imagined.”(Bentham 1802)

Although it is true that Matadors have died or seriously injured by the bull (which is screams a big hoorah for the bull), statistically, these incidents are rare. In light of this, it is important to remember that the matador actively chooses to go into the fight, the bull has no choice whatsoever other than to be ritually slaughtered for those attending.

There are many arguments against bullfighting. However, the greatest argument against the practice is the intolerable cruelty suffered by the bull and the needless violence experienced by the horses. What value system are we promoting future generations, do we honestly want children to believe that cruelty displayed to animals is morally appropriate. Just because this is classified as ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’, it does not make this sport morally acceptable. The sport is outdated, and barbaric beyond contemporary times. We should not turn animals suffering into a sport – this is psychopathic.



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