Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bullfighting at the Times

The Times has an article about a young bullfighter who is going to fight six bulls on his own in his hometown this spring. It’s not very well informed, but at least it seems to recognise this, and it tries to quote sources it thinks are sound. It isn’t particularly successful, but it doesn’t talk opinionated rubbish from a position of complete ignorance.

The article itself seems to think it’s more significant than it is. A five-year-old in the ring is a circus, a 16-year-old, if he’s any good, is a bullfight. He is a full matador, although he took the ‘alternativa’ in Mexico so he isn’t really considered as such in Spain. Many bullfighters have been far more successful than Jairo at that age, it’s not something particularly notable, although it’s less common now.

And it’s not so unusual for a bullfighter to kill six bulls on his own. It’s true that it is usually done by matadors at the height of their popularity but he is doing it now for a very simple reason- he can’t get contracts and so his father has bought him the bulls to generate publicity.

Many of the commenters, on the other hand, are quite happy to reveal their stupidity in public. Many who understand bullfighting don’t like it, a perfectly respectable position, but if you don’t know anything about it keep your opinion to yourself. Not only because I don’t want to hear you, but mainly because you look like an idiot.

Several of them call it a sport, only so they can then say that it isn't. Well, they're quite right, but no one who knows bullfighting would claim that it was. It's not even a sport in the sense that hunting is. The bullfight is a spectacle, an art. To call it a sport is to show that you don't understand it.

We are told that if the tourists stopped going the whole thing would grind to a halt. Fortunately this is wishful thinking on the part of the antis. The fiesta is as healthy as it's ever been. Yes, there is some opposition, but most people in England don't like football and many would like to see the back of it because of the chaos it generates in their neighbourhoods every Saturday and the poor example it sets to the young, but football is not about to disappear.

Another thing they like to believe is that it does not require courage to stand in front of a bull. It does. It isn't supposed to be a fair fight, the point of it is to kill the bull. To kill a bull from the front with a sword you have to tire its neck muscles to keep its head down, and temper and control its charge and horn movements. Every part of the bullfight has this as its end. No part of it has the purpose of torture, humilliation or causing suffering. If it's done properly the bull does not suffer, though it dies of course.

I quite understand that there are people who don't like bullfighting, and some genuinely think it should be banned to protect the bulls (which would immediately cease to exist, but there you are). But you can't argue with the higher ignorance, so I haven't commented over at the Times.

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