Death in the afternoon

Alyn outlines the need to end EU subsidies for bullfighting, and spend that money on supporting farmers to grow food instead.

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published by scotspolitics.com on 29th May 2013.

He is tortured to death, surrounded by a crowd baying for his blood and cheering his tormentors. It’s not a fair fight; he’s already been weakened. Vaseline’s been rubbed in his eyes, wet newspaper shoved in his ears, cotton plugs in his nose. He’s been drugged, his legs have been rubbed with a caustic solution to burn them, laxatives for days have weakened him while he was kept in the dark before being shoved into the blinding sunlight.

Half a dozen men on horses drive wooden spears into him and half a dozen more use metal harpoons before the chief tormentor shows ‘great courage’ to administer the coup de grace. As he lies there on the ground, unable to resist, his testicles and his ears are cut off and he is dragged, still breathing and still bleeding, out of the ring while the crowd applauds the men.

You’ve paid for this. You may never have seen a bullfight and have no intention of ever doing so, but you’ve paid to support it and you’re still paying. You’re paying millions – perhaps €129 million a year. Money intended to support farmers has, instead been channelled to breeding bulls simply to have them tortured to death in the ring.

You should stop paying. Bloodsports have no place in the 21st century. Let me repeat that – bloodsports have no place in the 21st century. Just as bear-baiting and badger-baiting have been banished to the pages of history, so now should bull-fighting. Whether it’s a bullfight in Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, the Toro de la Vega or the Pamplona Bull Run, the barbarity of this mistreatment of animals cannot be justified.

Let’s avoid the doubt; this isn’t hunting, this isn’t fishing, this isn’t about putting food on the table – this is about bloodlust, about machismo and about testosterone-fuelled preening being satisfied through the mortal agonies of a bull. This isn’t a food product. The average Scottish gamekeeper takes care of the welfare of the animals under their purview and would prefer the end to be quick and humane. For the gamekeeper it’s the food that counts, not the fame.
In Europe we have mandatory minimum welfare standards for animals entering the foodchain but, it would appear, none for the final days of the matador’s victim. It’s time we extended the humane treatment of animals to all animals whether we intend to eat them or not.

I’ve heard the argument that this is part of the culture in some communities and I concede that argument but it was once part of our culture to sell other people into slavery, human sacrifice was once acceptable. Cultures change and the cultures which tolerate bullfighting are changing – Catalunya has already banned it and others are following. There is no appetite for nor, indeed, any prospect of the EU intervening in a nation’s culture but I refuse to accept that we should pay for it.

European resources intended for food production should not be diverted to a ‘sport’ which should have been left behind in the Dark Ages where it belongs. It’s time to end the subsidy.

If you agree you can sign the petition at alynsmith.eu/bullfighting and give me the support I need to have European subsidies paid to farmers. Money paid to those who produce food rather than gore; people who will produce sustenance for a population looking to the future rather than a blood-soaked spectacle stuck in the past.