What is Bullfighting?
Bullfighting is a long-standing tradition in Spain and other countries with Spain influence, such as Mexico. The sport's modern history, with matadors fighting on foot, dates back to the 18th century, with earlier versions extending back much further. Many of its proponents regard bullfighting as a fine art, as well as a cultural treasure.
Despite this, however, this sport has stirred up controversy internationally over its morality. Catalonia, the region of Spain that contains Barcelona and other prominent Spanish cities, banned the sport in 2010. Bans in a few other regions have been instituted as well, though in none as prominent as Catalonia. You can read this Wikipedia page for more information.
In this hub, I tried to consolidate the views of both proponents and opponents, before summarizing my own views. If you see something I should add, or a point is unclear, please leave a comment!
Defenders' point of view
Bullfighting's defendants claim two major positive points of bullfighting.
- Bullfighting is a tradition that is a part of Spanish culture and deserves to be preserved. Bullfighting goes back to the Romans, though the modern version (fighting on foot) is said to have begun in 1726. Its supporters view it as an art and greatly appreciate the aesthetic side of the sport. Seeing as it is quite possible the matador could get gored or trampled, it is viewed as an art form by which the matador can demonstrate his courage and honor. As such, bullfighting maintains an aura of romanticism. Bullfighting is also considered a representative of the countries it is popular in, so national and cultural pride play a large part in the support the sport enjoys.
- Bullfighting brings economic stimulus at a time when Europe needs it. Bullfighting is funded by public Spanish money, like other cultural traditions such as flamenco, but it brings a significant amount of return. With tickets, television, and the jobs it provides, bullfighting does provide a little economic support to the currently bedraggled Spanish economy. Additionally, there is an added boost to tourism, a significant economic sector of Spain. Like previously stated, bullfighting is considered culturally representative, especially of Spain, and many tourists spend a fair amount of money on this attraction.
Critics' point of view
Critics claim 2 major negatives:
- A life that is worth preserving is taken. Starting from the premise of valuing life and animal rights, critics state that the basic rights of the bull are being violated, as the bull almost always dies in the ring (assuming, quite defensibly I think, that bullfighting is against the bull's will).
- Bullfighting's mentality harms human society.This is largely based off the first point. If bullfighting violates rights of the bull, then it's immoral to continue it. Additionally, critics claim that this "blood sport" encourages a mentality that prevents progress into a more compassionate society, or even puts society backwards.
Defendant's counter to critics
Response to 1.) The benefits (economic stimulus, entertainment) outweigh the negatives (a bull's life taken). Especially because the current economy is in bad shape, Spain (and Mexico) should take every cent they can legitimately get. Bullfighting adds a great deal of economic benefit not only through tickets, but also through bars, hotels, souvenirs, restaurants, employees, and etc. Proponents argue that, seeing as the well-being of humans matters more than that of animals and a better economy helps human well-being, this is a time to encourage bullfighting, not phase it out.
Response to 2.) No, it doesn't. Proponents say bullfighting is not a "blood sport", but a fine art. The purpose of bullfighting is not amusement through the death of the bull, but as an opportunity for the toreador to demonstrate his artistry and courage. Going from this premise, bullfighting does no harm to human mentality.
Critic's counter to defendants
Response to 1.) Bullfighting does not deserve to be preserved. Just being a tradition is not enough to justify keeping this sport. Critics say that, like Chinese feet-binding, it's time for this cruel tradition to phase out.
Response to 2.) The negatives (life of the bull, damage to society) outweigh the positives (entertainment, economic benefits). While bullfighting may have some economic benefits, critics say animal rights and the damaging mentality of bullfighting outweigh the economic benefits associated with it.
In my opinion, both sides have very legitimate points. Based off the views summarized above, I think right now is not the time to worry about bullfighting, but it should begin to be phased out once the economy improves and stabilizes. I personally find it very distasteful (see my hub on specific reasons why I don't like bullfighting here), but human well-being, i.e. the economy, should come first.
However, this doesn't negate my negative feelings about bullfighting. Though I honestly can see and value the culture and tradition that comes with it, bullfighting's violence and non-consensual blood sport mentality really puts me off. There's something that disturbs me a bit about the stands full of people yelling for more blood.
I don't mean to understate the cultural value that many Spaniards and others around the world place in this sport. Some of the people I know and respect the most are strong proponents of bullfighting, mostly due to its place in heritage and tradition. I did my best to be unbiased in this hub (I wasn't quite so restrained in the hub I wrote while on the Spain trip: Why bullfighting is lame and should be stopped.), but I may not have been completely successful. I don't believe this is a black and white issue; many factors and values converge in this sport. However, I believe the best thing to do is to phase out this tradition, as with others in the past, and put our efforts into preserving those that bring happiness to all without cruelty towards creatures that ultimately cannot defend themselves.
This is my view; feel free to vote in the poll and leave your view in the comments.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on October 19, 2012:
I have heard that the sport gets a lot of subsidies from the Spanish gov, but from what I saw while I was in Andalucia, it seemed like bullfighting is still quite popular. Some, even if they personally didn't like it, still didn't support a ban, as they felt the sport had cultural value. Catalonia banned it though, so who knows? Thanks for stopping by, Jud.
Jud on October 19, 2012:
Bullfighting is heavily subsidised with government money. Most Spaniards don't actually like it.
Bob Zermop (author) from California, USA on June 03, 2012:
Thanks Angela, glad you enjoyed it. When I was in Spain I felt torn too, because I could feel the cultural importance there. See you around!
Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 03, 2012:
I so feel like the middle child, I am, reading this article, I see the points of view on both sides tradition vrs. what could be considered cruilty. Your brave to take on a controversial topic! Great hub!
Mrs L A Gibb on April 25, 2012:
I have yet to read this hub Bob. right now just in the middle of publishing.