The cruelty of_the_bloodless_bullfights

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There is not such thing as a uncruel bullfight, as there is not such thing as a uncruel death penalty.

There is not such thing as a uncruel bullfight, as there is not such thing as a uncruel death penalty.

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  • 1. The Cruelty of the “Bloodless” bullfights In recent years, a new concept has begun gaining force in the debate about bullfighting. Originally from the USA where part of the Californian Portuguese community reinvented it about 20 years ago, the term “bloodless bullfighting”, which was translated later to Spanish as “cruel-less bullfight” (corrida incruenta), is often heard today in the public forums where the anti-bullfighting movement has already managed to put the debate about Tauromachy (“bullfighting” in Geek; word often used by the scholars who study it) in the political sphere. But this anti-intuitive concept is much older, and much more contradictory, than it seems at first glance. It is worth to analyse it in detail. 1. The endless search for uncruelty The dynamics of the label cruelty associated with bullfighting is integral to the bullfighting debate and as old as tauromachy itself. The fact that bullfighting spectacles are public has made the undoubtedly cruel practices of animal abuse difficult to hide, practices that advocates of animals have been showing to the general public, which is increasingly more sensitive to animal suffering, and therefore more opposed to such practices. This has forced the bullfighting industry to reform its image from generation to generation, trying to modify the practices that cause a more adverse reaction from the public, and to re-define its activities to get rid of the cruelty label. Several forms and styles of bullfighting have appeared in different countries through history trying to sell to the public an image of a tauromachy more politically correct. In Andalusia, during the 18th century, the regulation of bullfighting began, and the modern form of bullfights were created. However, in the same century, the intellectual European movement known as “ The Enlightenment ” (so named by its declared purpose of removing the darkness of humanity by means of the lights of reason) began spreading through Europe, gaining great momentum in countries such as the United Kingdom and France. This movement finally caused the banning of cruel spectacles where animals were pit to fight other animals or humans, and it spawned the animal protection movement, which in 1824 had already matured enough to see the birth of the first animal welfare organisations in the United Kingdom. One of the first historical advances of such organizations was the passing of the “Cruelty to Animals Act 1835”, Law that banned in England bullfights, cockfights, dogsfights and all the spectacles of animal fighting, which for centuries had dominated British society. This law undoubtedly influenced other countries, and the following year the queen of Portugal Dona
  • 2. Maria II banned by Royal decree the death of the bull in public during bullfights performed inthis country. The prohibition did not last long, but it was approved again in 1928. Nevertheless,this did not eliminate the cruelty of the Portuguese bullfights since the bullfighting industry kepton killing the bull privately (sometimes two or three days after the bullfight, leaving the bullinjured and bleeding,suffering during all thistime in isolation), replacedthe traditional “pica”(lance) by a “punishment”harpoon which causessimilar damage, and kepton using the banderillas(long barbed sticks withharpoons in the end),which they increased ofsize and therefore sincethen they cause morepain. Bullfight of the Portuguese style (touradas) ©LACSThe next significant reform happened in the decade of 1920 when the use of protecting clotharmour in the picadores horses was made compulsory in all the countries where Spanish stylebullfighting occurred. As the death of the horse in public was common, and the animalprotection movement that had begun several decades earlier began precisely as a reaction to the abuses that coaches’ horses were suffering, this reform, which became Law in Spain in 1928 and in Mexico two years later, was conceived with the hope to stop once and for all the effect of the Enlightenment that by then had already secured the absolute ban of all kinds of animal fights in the majority of the European countries. Bullfight previous to the obligation of the use of armour in the horse of picadoresNevertheless, this did not pacify the animal protection movement for which the welfare of thebulls mattered as much as welfare of horses, and the anti-bullfighting campaigns continued,keeping the cruelty label firmly attached to tauromachy.We find the next reform in France in the decade of the 1960s, when the so-calledautochthonous bullfights (Course Camargaise and Course Lanadaise), where the bulls (orcows) are not killed, joined the bullfighting industry. This type of bullfights had been performedfor centuries in their not very regulated original forms, separately of the bullfighting industry, butin the 60s and 70s they were regulated, federations were formed, names were changed, and in
  • 3. the end they joined theSpanish bullfightingindustry, possibly asconsequence of theFrench penal code that in1951, after hundred yearsof legal debate, prohibitedSpanish style bullfights,except if they areperformed in areas ofFrance where it wastraditional for many years. Course Camargaise ©LACSSpanish style bullfighting was imported into France in 1835, when a bullfight in honour to theEmpress Eugenia de Montijo (a Spanish aristocrat wife of Napoleón III) was performed inBayonne, but the label of cruelty prevented the bullfighting industry from expanding to thecentre and north of the country, where the effects of the Enlightenment were still strong. When,with the 1951 Law, the rejection to the “ death” bullfights in France classed them as a crime inthe majority of the country, the industry needed more than ever an image improvement, so itallied itself with the autochthonous bullfights free from bad reputation by their French nature,and because by then they were not considered cruel yet. Therefore, since then, in certainmunicipalities of Landes and the Camargue (both regions in the south of the country) we can find both autochthonous bullfights and Spanish style bullfights in the same bullrings, for the same fans, under the same bullfighting industry. However, instead of improving the image of the industry, this union ended up worsening that of the autochthonous bullfights, since the animal protectionists that until then had not paid too much attention to them, began discovering that the bulls and cows also suffered in them, despite the fact they were not killed in the end. The cruelty label remained.Course Landaise ©LACSThe next reform happened in the USA, in the 1980s and 90s. The Portuguese community inCalifornia wanted to organise bullfights but the supposedly cruelty-less Portuguese bullfightswere considered illegal in this state (and in all others) given the fact that the mistreatment thatthe bulls received in them was against animal protection legislation. It was in 1980 when the
  • 4. Portuguese-American bullfighter Frank Borba invented a new style (“ bloodless bullfighting ”),similar to the Portuguese style, but replacing the banderillas and hook of punishment forequivalent in Velcro (which, theoretically, were not stabbed in the bull’s flesh but stuck on aVelcro cloth placed on the animal’s back). A few years later, in 1999, the son of Borba, alsobullfighter, developed this style into a mini North American bullfighting industry, with severalpermanent bullrings, bullfighting bulls’ farms, bullfighting schools, etc. For years bullfights ofthis type of bullfighting happened without the animal protection movement complaining …because actually the anti-bullfighting movement had no idea that these bullfights existed (noteven the Californian animal protection organisations), considering the few publicity they made.When the international bullfighting industry realised that the “cruelty” label, after so many years,had caused an unstoppable strong crisis in which the majority of the population of bullfightingcountries were no longer interested in bullfighting, it began thinking about the North Americanbloodless bullfight as apossible salvation toexplore as a last resource.With the support ofbullfighters from othercountries, the Americanindustry began expandinginto other states (Nevada,Illinois, etc.) and there iswhere the anti-bullfightingmovement began to wakeup, which led toinvestigations that in theend revealed that suchbullfights were neitherbloodless nor cruel-less,as expected. North American “bloodless” bullfight, showing the velcro’s cloth on the bull’s back ©LATAnd this takes us to the year 2010, when the bullfighting industry in Ecuador, harassed with anational referendum that resulted in the majority of the population of the country voting for thebanning of bullfighting, uses again the desperate card of the cruelty-less bullfight, this timeinventing a new style, which could be called “Quito’s style ”, where the only thing that changeswith regard to the Spanish style is that they do not kill the bull in public, but only privately. Theexposé in 2009 of the “fraud” of the bloodless bullfighting in the USA, the commercial defeat ofthe attempts of expanding such industry to other states of the USA, and the rejection of thisstyle by the most orthodox bullfighting aficionados, did not give to the Ecuadoran bullfightingindustry any choice other than inventing this new style, which of course did not do anything toavoid the cruelty label, especially now that the slaughter of the bull happens in private withoutthe animal protection movement able to check it.The desperate search for the cruelty-less bullfight began centuries ago and it will never end,because the bullfighting industry is looking for something that does not exist, and everygeneration that comes, more sensitive to animal suffering and more sophisticated in detectingit, will always see beyond what the publicists and bullfighting reformers try to sell them.
  • 5. 2. The physical and psychological torture of the bloodless bullfightsThe reason why all the attempts of the bullfighting industry to get rid of the “cruel” label alwaysfail is because its activities are undoubtedly cruel, and this fact can easily be documented. Forcruelty (or absence of compassion for somebody else’s suffering) to occur two elements areneeded: that unnecessary suffering is cause to somebody else, and that who causes realises itbut keeps on causing it although it is free to stop it. To cause deliberately suffering for sport orentertainment, repetitively, ignoring the expressions of pain of the victim, is an act of torture,independently of who is the victim, and independently if the victim survives in the end.All the bullfights that have been defined as cruel-less, either the Portuguese, Frenchautochthonous, North American or from Quito, are based on torture to bulls or cows withdifferent methods that cause them suffering, and the bullfighters are aware of it since,considering their profession, they must read intensely the behaviour of the animal they fight toanticipate its reactions. As nobody forces these toreadors to fight the animal (in contrast to theslaves of the classic Rome who were forced to be gladiators), this conduct can be described ascruelty, even if they do not feel any sadistic pleasure and only act cold and calculatedly for thesalary they receive, or the praise they are venerated with.Such a torture can take different forms, but its effect can be seen at two levels: psychologicalsuffering and physical suffering. The first example of psychological suffering is discomfort.Our bodies are designed to look for an environment where our physiology works efficiently, andtherefore we have senses that evaluate the environmental variables (such as are temperature,humidity, air chemistry, parasites, etc.), which inform us if we are in a suitable place, and if weare not the brain will create a sensation of discomfort to make us change place until it disappears. However, if this sensation does not disappear because we are unable to leave the uncomfortable environment, the brain increases its alert to the point that such feeling of discomfort is transformed into suffering. The most common situation where discomfort becomes suffering, suffering becomes stress, and stress becomes physical illnesses, is captivity. All the animals used in all kinds of bullfights, even the supposedly bloodless ones, begin their ordeal with the same phenomenon: the sensation of loss of freedom for the imposition of a forced captivity that can last days, and sometimes even weeks. The radical change from life in the pasture to life in metal trucks or cement cells, dark, small, narrow and stifling, which do not even allow the animal to run (which is what its instinct asks it), to return to its herd (which is what its communication expresses) or even to turn round and scratch itself because of an itch or nervousness, is a source of extreme ©SHARK discomfort that undoubtedly becomes suffering given its duration. In the case of theCourse Landaise the effect of captivity is even multiplied by the fact that the animal enters the
  • 6. bullring with a rope tied around its horns to force it to be in the part of the ring the bullfighterswish, or to stop any unwanted charge on its tracks.The second example of psychological suffering is “ fear “, and this one is caused in all kinds ofbullfights, even the bloodless’ ones. Based on the fact that, to prevent the animal from gettingaccustomed too much to human beings and therefore not consider them a threat anymore –which would prevent it from defending itself charging, which is the behaviour all bullfighterswant to provoke – it is raised in the pastures without much human contact, in a more naturalstate than the animals bred for meat (and they do not get this better life simply because of “generosity “ or to compensate for the maltreatment they are going to receive later on), thismeans that any human handling to the animal is going to cause to it more fear that if ithappened to another animal already used to humans. The fact of separating it from its herd,which gave it protection since birth, is already going to create certain fear, but it is then putinside a dark and stifling truck to betransported to the bullring, experiencethat the animal has never lived and doesnot understand either by instinct or bylearning; it is then placed in dark cellswith smells reminding of pain and strangethreatening noises, and finally, throughshouts, pushes and “pricks“, it is forcedto run towards a suppose escape to findthat, in a shocking fright, it is nowsurrounded by yelling humans andterrifying trumpets, where it can neitherflee nor shelter in any corner. Anymammal, even human beings, put in thesame circumstances, would undoubtedlyfeel fear, since the fear is a naturalemotion that has evolved in all of them totry to deal with strange situationspossibly dangerous. Lorries transporting bulls for a Course Camargaise ©LACSThe third example of psychological suffering is anxiety, which can be defined as anoppressive fear that does not disappear, caused often by uncertainty or fear of the future. Thistype of suffering is more common in the bullfights that are catalogued as cruel-less than in the“death” bullfights, especially in those where the animal is not killed and it is used again later onin other bullfights, as is the case of the autochthonous French bullfights. For the discomfort andfear turning into anxiety it is necessary that the cognitive system of the animal is sufficientlycomplex that it can predict events, and that such predictions tell the animal that the near futureis not positive. All the mammals have this capacity, since their brain is sufficiently developed tohave good memory, and to use it to foresee the short term future (for example, the attack of apredator, the appearance of food or water, etc.). Bullfighting bulls, for being mammals, but alsofor living in herds with complex social relations, have good cognitive capacity that undoubtedlyallows them to remember adverse situations they have lived in the past and to try to avoid themin the future. Therefore, bulls and cows that have already been fought, remember the badexperience they had, and if they are facing another bullfight, they know perfectly well whatawaits them. This memory feeds their frustration since they know that, no matter what they do,
  • 7. they cannot avoid the experience, which aggravates their fear towards the category of anxiety. If the memory of a previous bullfight was positive or neutral, the result would be less fear ( becoming “habituated” to the experience, as is the case of the manipulation of cattle used to the human contact), but since all the bullfights are an adverse experience, their remembrance, as in the case of traumatizing events, does the opposite.Bull tied in a lorry waiting to be fought in a Course Camargaise ©LACSThe fourth example of psychological suffering is stress. This is really the boundary betweenpsychological and physical suffering, since it is the effect of being in a situation of discomfort,alert, fear or distresses during sufficient time so that the natural physiological state that thesesituations create to return the organism to its natural balance, starts generating pathologicalproblems since such responses evolved only as emergency solutions in the short term, not forthe long term states. An animal, human or not, suffers from stress when what initially was anatural reaction against adversity has become a pathology, and as such it is much easier todetect clinically (with the appearance of very concrete symptoms, among them a high level ofthe cortisol hormone). Since the process of the bullfight is actually very long (the bullfight canlasts only about 15 minutes but the process began when the bull was kidnapped from thepasture, days or weeks earlier), thisundoubtedly generates stress,which even the veterinarians of thevery bullfighting industry recognise.This type of suffering is even morecommon in case of bloodlessbullfights in which the bull survivesthe spectacle, and it is eithersacrificed few days later when thestress has been accumulating (asin many Portuguese stylebullfights), or goes through thesame ordeal again and again in thefuture, even during the rest of its life(as in the autochthonous Frenchbullfights). Cow stressed during a Course Landaise ©LACS
  • 8. As far as physical suffering is concerned, there is one type that is common in all the styles ofthe bullfighting: exhaustion. So all sort of bullfighters can approach an animal and executetheir passes and/or twirls the animal must be weakened to reduce the risk of accident and torespond better to the instructions or “deceptions“ of the toreadors. That is not difficult, sincebovines have a very high corporal mass and not very efficient mechanisms to control theexcess of body temperature (they neither sweat like the equines or human beings, nor havevery long tongues to eliminate heat like canids or felines), and therefore, after certain physicalexercise, they become exhausted very easily and at risk of suffering hyperthermia. This can be verified simply observing their facial expressions, since there is one that indicates precisely exhaustion: the open mouth and the tongue out, while breathing intensely with the mouth (see adjacent photo of a Portuguese bullfight). From the bullfights to the Spanish style to the North American bullfights, each and every one of the bulls fought shows this expression after a few minutes of having been harassed by the bullfighters, and having run in the arena becauseof this harassment. In the case of the bullfights of the Portuguese style this exhaustion is moreevident because the bull is forced to run even more, chasing the bullfighter who in this style ison horseback (fact shared with the Spanish rejoneo). When an animal is exhausted, sincethere is a great danger of collapse (and even death) if it does not rest immediately, the brainmakes him feel suffering (which can even be shown as muscular pain, breathlessness, etc.),which evolutionarily is a natural mechanism to inform to an organism that it is living through anadverse situation that must be avoided urgently. The expressions of pain of exhausted athletesat the end of a marathon are a good example.The next example of physical suffering is the injury or wound. There is no need to argue thatinjury and wounds produce pain, since we all know this fact that is understandable bothevolutionarily and intuitively, and thereis no need either to argue that thepain is a form of suffering. Whatperhaps we must explain is that in theso-called cruel-less bullfights injuriesare also infringed to the animalsfought. In the case of the Portuguesebullfights every animal is injured bymetal weapon that clearly make himbleed. It begins with the “insignia”which is stabbed to the bull beforegoing out to the arena, and shows towhich cattle breeder it belongs to;then the “lance of punishment” thatthe riding bullfighter stabs on the bull’sback after it has been exhausted by making it chase a small flag at the end of a stick that therider shows to the bull, while the fresh horse (they change it every few minutes so that it does
  • 9. not become exhausted) is trained to always run a little faster than the bull so that it does notcatch it; then there are the banderillas that the rider stabs to the bull while riding the horse (andthats why they are longer, which causes bigger injuries once in the animal’s flesh when itmoves from side to side), and finally the weapon that the butcher uses to kill the bull at the endof the day or a few days later, in private so that the public does not see it (the physical andpsychological abuse of the bull is so severe, and the memory of the event makes it sodangerous, that this bull cannot be fought again in the future and it is killed).The case of the Quito bullfights is very similar, withthe difference that instead of “lance of punishment”the “pica” is used (the long spear that is stabbed inthe bull’s back several times by the picador onhorseback), and that is possible that it is the sametoreador and not a professional butcher who kills tothe bull with the verdugo (a special sword thatsgarrottes to the bull when it is still standing up) inprivate the same day of the bullfight (which is notknown since this style is new and the killing is notpublic and has not been documented yet). Picador ©LACS The injuries in Course Landaise may come form of pricks the cow receives (since this style uses females) to force it to move if it resists; or pricks that it receives from a stick with a metallic top to force it to run in the opposite direction where another toreador (called écarteur) is waiting to jump over it; or muscular injuries that the animal can possibly suffer caused by the violent tugs of the rope that it has tied in its horns.Stick with a metal end being stabbed on a tied cow during a Course Landaise ©LACS
  • 10. The injuries in Course Camargaise may come from the pricksproduced by the trident, a long pole that ends with three metallicsharp spikes, traditionally used by cattle breeders in theCamargue, and used to move animals by pain. In this type ofbullfight the bull often jumps the fence that limits the arena (whichis shorter than in the Spanish bullrings, to allow the toreadors tojump over them more easily, since this is part of the spectacle), which makes the use of the trident quite frequent, in order to force the bull to return to the arena. Also, accidental injuries can happen with the crochet, the metallic tool that the toreadors (called raseteurs) hold to cut the cords that the bull has tied to the base of its horns, while they are running in front of the bull avoiding its charges.Left: Crochet. Right: trident used to poke bulls in a Course Camargaise. ©LACSAs far as the North American bullfights are concerned, one would expect that the use of theVelcro has completely eliminated the wounds, and the term of “bloodless ” bullfights is justified.However, since we will see below, an undercover investigation undertaken by the animalprotection movement in 2009 showed that behind the Velcro of the banderilla there is a realmetal spike that stabs the back of the bull producing wounds, although the bleeding caused isabsorbed by the black cloth on the animal’s back, and therefore the public does not see it.Also, many of the bulls fought in this style cannot be used in another fight again – since the bullnot only is going tocollaborate less in futureoccasions given its goodmemory, but it is going tobe more dangerousbecause its experiencemakes it less vulnerable tothe deceptions of thetoreador – and therefore itis also going to besacrificed after the bullfight(we do not know exactlyhow, since they do not doit publicly). Metal spike under the velcro of a banderilla in a US bullfight
  • 11. And we must not forget the horses, the other victims of the tauromachy. They are used in theQuito bullfights for the picadores, and in the Portuguese and North American styles for thecavalheiros. In the former, as in the Spanish bullfights, although they have cloth armour thattheoretically protects themfrom the bull’s goring,sometimes such protectionis insufficient, and the bullknocks down the horseending up goring it in theunprotected parts of thebody, adding real wounds(sometimes fatal) to theterror horse endures fromthe moment that aninvisible being – since thehorse has its eyes coveredso it does not see it –charges against it with allits force. Bull topping over the horse of the picador ©LACS In the latter, the horses also suffer accidents when the bull catches them, and since in this case they do not have any protection, such accidents can also be fatal, especially in the cases where, to give a bit more excitement to the bullfight, the horns are not covered with leather cups, as is traditional in Portugal. Bull without covered horn goring to a horse during a Portuguese bullfight ©LACS
  • 12. And in the cases where there are no accidents, it is often possible to observe the side of the horse bleeding, since the riders use the spurs with so much intensity to make the horse react quickly to their instructions, that these cause visible injuries. Injuries caused to the horse by the bullfighter’s spurs in a Portuguese bullfight ©LACSAs we have seen, in all the types of bullfights that have been described with the term cruel-less, there is psychological and physical torture that makes them intrinsically cruel, despitehow they have been named.3. The breach of the “five animal welfare freedoms” by the tauromachyNowadays, all modern animal protection laws of are based on the Five Animal WelfareFreedoms, a concept initially developed in the United Kingdom in the 80s, but adopted in therest of the world. These freedoms define the minimal conditions in which it is possible to saythat the welfare of an animal is adequate. Therefore, they are the legislative base forpenalization of animal mistreatment by those in charge of animals who could not guaranteesuch freedoms. In particular, the five freedoms say that animals have… 1. To be free from thirst and hunger 2. To be free from discomfort 3. To be free from pain, injury and disease 4. To be free to express normal behaviour 5. To be free from fear and distressIf it is possible to prove that a person failed in giving some of these freedoms to an animal athis/her charge, that is equivalent to animal abuse and in the majority of modern countries suchperson is punished. The most advanced animal protection laws in the world go further, as faras the severity of the fines and custody sentences (often prison) and the easiness to provesuch negligence. For example, the last animal protection law passed in the United Kingdom,the Animal Welfare Act 2006, allows the authorities to arrest a person only for considering that,because of the kind of care he/she gives to an animal, is likely that some of these freedoms arenot going to be provided in the future, even if they are still provided in the present. Therefore, itis not necessary to prove that the animal is fed badly, it does not receive a suitable veterinarytreatment, or cannot express natural behaviour, but only that, in a nearby future, it is likely thatthis situation will occur due to the negligent behaviour of the person responsible for theanimal’s care.
  • 13. The tauromachy debate is based on discussing the treatment bulls and horses used in thebullfighting industry receive, and deciding whether it is justified or not, and whether it needsmodifying or be stopped altogether. Therefore, at the very least, it will be necessary to assessthe five freedoms of animal welfare to find out whether or not there is animal abuse. In ourcase, we will do this only analysing the bullfights that have been described as cruel-less, andfrom what we have already seen in the previous chapters, not only it is clear that such bullfightsare in breach of some of these freedoms, but in fact they are in breach of all of them.With regard to the first one (freedom from thirst and hunger), it is known that, before a bullfight,the animals are not feed (for a whole day or more), to avoid excessive vomiting and defecationwhen facing the public, and to avoid the soporific state caused by their digestion, common inmany ruminants. Although such deprivation of feeding would be acceptable if recommended bya veterinarian previous to surgery, it clearly is not in the case of using to the animal inentertainment or celebration. This phenomenon also happens in the bloodless bullfights, forexactly the same reasons as in any other type of bullfight.With regard to the second one (freedom from discomfort), third (freedom from pain, injuries anddisease) and fifth (freedom from fear and distress), in the previous chapter we have alreadyshowed in detail that all the types of cruel-less bullfights infringe all these freedoms.With regard to the fourth one (freedom of expressing normal behaviour) the process of thebullfighting is based on using normal cattle behaviour and forcing the animals to express it inan unnatural form in the benefit of the spectacle. For example, the normal behaviour of abullfighting bull that is being threatened is to join its herd, if the threat persists to flee runningwith the herd (stampede), and if he keeps on persisting and the herd cannot flee more due togeographical limitations or exhaustion, then to charge with the intention of making the attackerdesist. This naturaldefensive behaviouris more or less thesame in all theruminants, as can beseen in wolveshunting deer, or lionshunting buffaloes. Inbullfighting, on theother hand, suchbehaviour is manipulated so that it is not expressed in natural form, but only showing the lastphase, which is repeated again and again. Bullfighters separate the bull so that it cannot usethe herd as protection, places it in a round bullring without exit or corners so that it cannot fleeor find shelter, and it is provoked continuously to awake the last resource: the charge. And thenthe cape (or the bullfighter in the case of the autochthonous French bullfights) is withdrawn atthe last moment so that the defensive charge, which in the nature would only be repeated acouple of times once physical contact has been established, keeps on repeating because it hasnot been completed. Therefore, the tauromachy not only prevents the normal behaviour of thebull, but it manipulates it until it appears as an unnatural behaviour (the continued charging,necessary for the spectacle). Also, the bullfighting bull breeders, theoretically, control thereproduction of their animals to generate bulls that charge more normal (to became more“brave”), which in itself is an attempt of genetic control of the behaviour that forces to the bull tobehave abnormally.
  • 14. Therefore, due to genetics or captive conditions, due to handling or maltreatment, in the caseof bullfights in the Spanish style and also in all those styles that have been described as cruel-less, the bullfighting industry, in charge of the well-being of its animals, is in breach of the fiveanimal welfare freedoms, and it is therefore also guilty of animal abuse, as in the case of anyperson convicted for animal abuse. The only difference is that in nine countries in the worldlegal exceptions have been created so that those involved in animal abuse on behalf of thetauromachy could not be charged with the same animal protection laws that the rest of thepopulation must obey.4. The deception of the North American bullfightsWhen the bullfighting industry began expanding their North American style bullfights beyondCalifornia, animal protection organisations began investigating in more detail this type ofbloodless bullfights. The result was revealing, but not surprising. In two separateinvestigations, one in a bullfight in Artesia on 23rd of May of 2009 and other one in Thorntonone week later, the organisation Animal Cruelty Investigations (ACI), based on Los Angeles,discovered that the banderilhas that in theory only should end in a tip of Velcro that would stickto the cloth of the same material placed on the bull’s back, had in fact a real metallic sharpspike hidden underneath. Metallic spike found under the Velcro at the end of the banderilha used in bloodless bullfights in California ©ACIWhen the bulls were examined by an animal welfare officer’ (approved by the State ofCalifornia to inspect activities of this sort), he discovered that indeed the bull had puncturesunder the cloth and it was bleeding. The agent in Artesia confiscated the banderilhas andstopped the event, but the agents in Thornton were less lucky because when they did thesame, together with local police officers, they were attacked by the bullfighting aficionados.
  • 15. From this revelation, the advanceof the bloodless bullfights acrossAmerica was stopped and manyof the bullfights that had beenprogrammed in other states werecancelled. The investigationscontinue, since now that theanimal protection movement inthe USA is aware of the existenceof these bullfights, undoubtedlythere will be more. Agent of the animal protection organisation ACI confiscating the banderilhas used in the bloodless North American bullfight ©ACIThe possible reasons for the existence of this fraud could be the following: on one hand, theidea that the banderillas would remain stuck on the Velcro, despite the continuous movementof the bulls, perhaps encountered technical problems that were attempted to be solved by themetallic spike at the banderilla end, which, by stabbing it in the bull’s flesh, would keep thebanderilla in position. The problem of the blood that this would spill (alerting the authorities)could have been solved making the cloth at the bull’s back very thick and black, so that thespilled blood would be absorbed and not visible. On the other hand, there is the originalfunction of the banderillas and the “lance of punishment” in the bullfight, which is to debilitatethe bull so that other bullfighters (in case of Portugal the so-called forcados) can later handlethe bull easier. Without the pain or the blood loss due to the use of the Velcro instead of theusual weapons it is possible that the task of the forcados turned out to be too difficult, andtherefore the real banderillas were reintroduced hoping that nobody would notice.The main fraud of the North American bullfights is not that they cause blood when they aredefined as bloodless, that kill to the bulls after the bullfight when they are defined like “withoutdeath”, that try to be the solution of the crisis of the tauromachy when the orthodox fans detestthem, or that are defined as “cruel-less” when the torture of the bulls has not been eliminated(since it cannot be eliminated). The most significant fraud is that they are entirely based on“deception” from design. The deception of the bull to make him think that it is being attacked byan assiduous predator that cannot be pushed away; the deception to the authorities because ofhiding the abuse made to the bulls, against the relevant legislation; the deception to theaficionados because it shows them a bullfight without the elements they want to see; thedeception to the pro-bullfighting lobby that loses the tradition argument to defend thetauromachy; the deception to the public because the image of a cruel-less bullfight is sold tothem when actually such bullfights are full of cruelty; and the deception to the politiciansbecause the idea sold to them that this type of bullfights is going to solve the problem of thebullfighting debate since it is going to be accepted by the animal protection movement, whenclearly this is not true.
  • 16. 5. The increase of manipulations in the cruel-less” bullfightingThe case of the fraud exposed in North American bullfights explained in the previous chapterleads to a reflection. Is it really possible to fight to a bull that has not been weakened with painand blood loss? We already know that the history of the bullfighting debate is full ofaccusations of “manipulation” of the bulls before they come out to the arena, to help the workof the bullfighters and to reduce their risk. For example, the use of drugs, baseline in the eyes,of sand sacks, clipping of the horns, pins in the testicles, etc. Several of these accusations aregroundless and they do not make much sense since the use of the lance and the banderillas isclearly sufficient to debilitate the bull and to allow to the bullfighter to do his task, but some ofthem not only are true, but they have been admitted by the bullfighting industry itself, that hascreated regulations that forbid such manipulations, and has changed procedures to eliminatethem.For example, the case of the shaving, where the tips of the horns are filed down to reduce thedanger when goring. This practice, prohibited by the bullfighting regulations of the countrieswhere the Spanish style bullfights occur, has kept happening, and occasionally there news ofbreeders or other bullfighting professionals fined by such infractions can be seen on the news.On the other hand, such practices are legal in Portugal, where not only the horns can be filedbut also they put leather hoods on them, especially to prevent the bulls from hurting the horses,which do not have another protection. But the question that we must ask is that, if some ofthese modifications really happen despite of being against the regulations and the reputationof the involved bullfighters, and despite the bulls are already severely weakened with thebanderillas, the pica, or the “lance of punishment”, should not we expect that they wouldhappen even more in thosebullfights where the bull is notstabbed with these weapons? Ifreally an element exists of“coward bullfighters: ” whopretend being brave attacking abull that has lost even more thecapacity to defend itself sue tothe manipulation that hasreceived, should not we expectthat these would use even moremanipulations in the bullfightsclassed as bloodless, wherethe bull is more fresh? Bull’s horns covered in leather in a Portuguese bullfight © Miguel NoronhaIf the process of finding the uncruel version of the tauromachy is simply a response to thebullfighting crisis with which the industry tries to improve its image, should not we expect moredeceptions in the supposedly bloodless bullfights, including deceptions regarding thesupposed valour of the bullfighter, or to the supposed danger of the bull?The most orthodox “taurophiles” evoke artistic and philosophical concepts to justify thetauromachy, such as “ bravery “, “ caste “, “ honour “ and “ valour “, to exalt a torture of ananimal to something supreme that should be considered an universal cultural heritage. Canthey keep on using such arguments if they continue in the line of reforming the industry
  • 17. towards the bloodless bullfight, which is a much more fertile terrain for the deception of themanipulation of the bull?6. The tauromachy with a sheep’s skinThe tauromachy not only is based on events where animals are tortured, but on publicspectacles where bullfighting aficionados can bring their young children so that they can alsobecome fans, through desensitising and tribal cohesion. Those who oppose bullfighting usepowerful arguments about how violence perpetrated to the bulls ends up infecting the societywhich tolerates tauromachy, making it a more insensitive society to the suffering of others, andtherefore more at risk to becoming more violent. There are already well-known studies thatrelate the abuse of animals to the abuse to human beings, and there are more scholars whojoin the rejection of bullfighting not for animal protection reasons, but for public security reason.However, how does this induction to violencechange in case of the bloodless bullfights? Ifthe torture, although modified, persists, if theworship to the killer of bulls persists, if thebreeding of animals to be humiliated in publicspectacles persists, if the narrative of thebullfighting liturgy of dominance over the beastpersists, and if, finally, the machy (fight) intauromachy persists, the induction to violence isgoing to keep on existing. If the tauromachycovers itself with a sheep’s skin, more reasonsfor us to be afraid of the wolf that hides behind.Beyond the apology of the violence from a purely theoretical and indirect point of view, theexistence of the bloodless bullfights does not prevent them from being used to reinforce thebloody bullfights. The clearest case is that of the North American bullfights, which generated amini bullfighting industry in the USA. Such industry, despite being limited by the legislation thatprevents it to organise bullfights in the Spanish, Portuguese or “Quito” styles, has created notonly bullfighting bull farms to be used in bloodless bullfights, but also bullfighting schools, inwhich some toreadors of name have already been created. But such schools do not teach the “bloodless bullfighting”, but simply the traditional bullfighting, and the bullfighters formed in themhave ended up killing bulls abroad, because that was the reason they signed up to the courses.It is ironic that an industry that brands itself as “bloodless” has schools of bull killers who learnto be the most bloody that one could be.The imitation of a violent activity remains a violent activity in itself, so therefore we should notbe surprised to see that those who learn the art of killing declaring that they are not going touse it, end up using it where they are allowed to do so. As analogy, lets look at the case of“raping” (this is only an illustrative analogy, not a direct comparison). In a hypothetical worldwhere rapists have organized themselves to perform their activities as a public spectacle, andwhere they have managed to do it in a particular country during so many generations thatspectators have begun to confusing sexual excitement for artistic catharsis, it is perfectlypossible that a sexomachy could be created, with an associate industry, chairs in universitiesto study it, journalistic commentators specializing in it, and of course an organized oppositionfrom human rights advocates against it. If such hypothetical society, influenced by theintellectual advances of other countries, was maturing with time till the point that the majority ofthe population would like to ban the “sexomachy” activities, it is possible that the option of the “
  • 18. cruel-less rape” is put on the table. First limiting who can be raped, and which type of sexualacts are allowed. Then, if that does not satisfy the human rights protestors, reform even moreforcing the rapists to use condoms, and only to rape victims who have had a lucky andluxurious life. Perhaps that would not eliminate the debate either, so in the end, the “real cruel-less rape” par excellence would be proposed: Not more human victims; they all are replacedwith inflatable dolls. Would it really be reasonable to expect that such society should acceptsuch sexomachy, even if there are already no real victims? Would not be the banning of“worship to rape” the only ethically acceptable solution? The imitation of cruelty remains beinga cruel act, especially if the victim does not know that it was an imitation.The cruelty of the cruel-less bullfights, be called Portuguese, Frenchs, North American, fromQuito or any other invented, is very real as far as the bulls, cows and horses that have toendure it is concerned, but it is also real for the members of the society that tolerates them,since it prevents them from abolishing completely bullfighting, which cause social damage andhelps to perpetuate violence. The majority of countries in the world chose the abolition withoutthe need of any intermediate step, because in ethical issues that imply suffering to thirdparties no intermediate steps are acceptable. The animal protection movement is a part of thepeace movement opposed to unjustified violence, and therefore seeks the abolition oftauromachy, by law or by reconversion. In the 21st century there is no room for cruel spectaclesthat cause suffering to other sentient beings, and changing the name, the form or intensity ofsuch cruelty does not give them the right to continue existing. Jordi Casamitjana Ethologist London, UK January 2012