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Bullfighting: Justifying Cruelty with Tradition

I posted the following entry over at Animal Blawg:

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Comment by Tim Gier on September 24, 2012 at 0:52

Hi Spencer, welcome to ARZone! Thanks for posting your essay; in it you raise an important question about why tradition ought to be used as justification to allow certain practices. I suppose that every practice we now find unacceptable was at one time or another traditional within some certain culture. We are, as a species, very reluctant to change.

Comment by Spencer Lo on September 23, 2012 at 16:16

At another forum, someone told me that his grandfather used to read him the bedtime story “Ferdinand the Bull,” which is about a bull who refused to fight and would rather smell roses. He said: “I'm 30 years old now but when I was a child and my grandfather was still alive he used to read me the same bed time story over and over, he loved it and knew it by heart. He would actually recite it and act it out and eventually I could too.”  

Here’s an intriguing twist: his grandfather was a bullfighter in Mexico!

Comment by Carolyn Bailey on September 23, 2012 at 14:31

Thanks for your kind words, Spencer! 

We spoke with Melanie Joy this week and, as you'll know, she speaks about denial and how people defend their choices to exploit others, without even realising they are choices. It does seem absurd when people make statements like that, I agree with you. 

Comment by Spencer Lo on September 23, 2012 at 13:53

Hi Carolyn!

Thanks for welcoming me to ARzone, and it should go without saying that I’m a big fan of the site! What you do here is incredibly important.

Before researching my post, I didn’t realize how must the “tradition” justification—which is tied to the “art” justification—resonated with some people, a fact that I find most disturbing. That seems to enable defenders to not realize the obvious cruelty being inflicted, to the point of saying absurdities like they actually “love” the animals! One person who commented on my post said “the bull dies not a painful death, but a glorious one.” I mean, what can one say to THAT?

Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to reading more of them.

Comment by Carolyn Bailey on September 23, 2012 at 13:39

Hi Spencer! 

Welcome to ARZone! 

Thanks for posting this here. I like your blog site. 

This story was on the news here in Brisbane last night, and the elderly gentleman they spoke with who was in support of bullfighting noted that it had been very "painful" for him to have had to "suffer" through the "stress" of the possibility of the courts banning bullfighting. I wondered to myself if he had any comprehension of the words he was so ignorantly using. The reporter also commented that the crowds at these events in France were at an all time low, and getting lower. 

I find it incredible that, around the world, so many groups hide behind "tradition" in order to commit atrocities on others, and are rarely challenged, legally. 

I particularly liked the last sentence of your essay, and agree completely with you: 

"Ethical truths can be a very simple matter, but often getting people to see them – and live by them – is not." 






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