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Debate: Bullfighting

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Is bullfighting acceptable in modernity, or should it be banned?

Background and context

Bullfighting is a controversial sport in Spain. While supporters argue it is a cultural art form, opponents say that it is brutal and cruel toward animals.

Torture: Is it wrong to think to bullfighting as torture or as inhumane?


  • Bullfighting celebrates death and cycle of life. Robert Elms. "End bullfighting and you give in to the neutering forces of accepted taste." The Independent. July 31st, 2010: "Our squeamishness means that we prefer death which is mechanical and invisible, while the Spanish understand that it is part of a cycle.[...]This always potent and sometimes beautiful spectacle is the ritual slaughter of six truly wild animals for your entertainment. Matador just means killer. It is a public celebration of death (a subject we prefer to hide from in Britain) which, when it is done well, becomes a celebration of life. The man charged with the task of delivering a fine end to this fierce and powerful creature will dance with it along the way, laying his own life on the line to create a swirling symbiosis."
  • Life of bullfighting bull more decent than factory bull. Robert Elms. "End bullfighting and you give in to the neutering forces of accepted taste." The Independent. July 31st, 2010: "Those who see bullfighting as cruel are, of course, right. It is cruel that man should breed and kill animals for his enjoyment whether as a dinner or a dance. But to my mind the life of an Iberian fighting bull, a thoroughbred animal which lives to a minimum age of four, roaming wild, feasting on Spain's finest pasture, never even seeing a man on foot, is far superior to that of the many thousands of British bulls whose far shorter lives are spent entirely in factory conditions and killed in grim abattoirs so that we can eat beefburgers."


  • Bullfighting is an inhumane form of torture. Jeremey Bentham, Theory of Legislation. Principles of the Penal Code. "The Culture of Benevolence". 1802 - "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."[1]
  • Bullfighting is about entertaining a crowd lusting for blood.
  • Horses suffer in bullfighting as much as bulls. Bullfighting "Bulls are not the only creatures to suffer in bullrings. The tormented bull does not understand that it is the man on the horse's back that is causing his pain, only that he is in agony. He therefore sees the horse as his enemy as much as the man. It's not unusual for horses used in bullfights to be so badly gored by the bulls that they have to be killed, but only after they have been dragged from the ring and the view of the spectators."
  • Bulls' horns may be shaved, making them very sensitive to pain.
  • Body parts may be cut-off while bull is still alive. "What's wrong with bullfighting?" League against cruel sports: "At the end of the fight, the bull may not be yet dead while his body parts are cut-off to be kept as trophies. Spanish bull breeders receive EU agricultural subsidies, meaning that UK taxpayers' money goes to support this terrible industry."

Fair fight? Is bullfighting a fair fight?


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  • Not a fair fight: gang of armed men against one bull. "What's wrong with bullfighting?" League Against Cruel Sports: "A bullfight is never a fair fight, as the confused and frightened bull faces a matador and several other men, some on horseback, armed with terrible weapons. Read more bullfighting facts."
  • Not a fair fight; bullfighters rarely injured/killed. "What about the "brave" matadors, picadors and their ilk? Bullfighters are rarely injured and seldom killed in the ring. With their armory of weapons to weaken the bull until it can no longer fight, their lives are not at great risk. In fact, in the last 50 years only 10 bullfighters have been killed worldwide."

Public opinion: Where does public opinion stand?



  • Majorities in bullfighting states & elsewhere oppose bullfighting. "What's wrong with bullfighting?" League Against Cruel Sports: "Recent polls have shown that the majority of people are against bullfighting. 89% of British people would not visit a bullfight (ComRes 2008), whilst in Spain 67% are not interested in bullfighting (Gallup 2008). In France, 69% of people oppose public funding for bullfighting (YouGov 2009)."

Pro/con sources



See also

External links and resources

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