Bullfighting: The 'Art' of Killing and the Fallacy of Tradition

19/07/2016 16:17 | Updated 19 July 2016

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that "bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honour". Not only does his statement fail on account of its inaccuracy, but even a writer as revered as he, couldn't whitewash such an evil and repugnant act with romanticised notions of artistry and honour; and it should be to his great shame that in having the power to condemn it with the strongest words available, he chose to do the opposite, for bullfighting always has and always will be nothing more than a public display of torture and execution poorly concealed behind a cloak of culture.

All too often, actions which are nothing more than the relics of a barbarous and depraved period of history are defended as tradition and rationalised though fallacies as a means of justifying their continuation. And so it is again, that in light of a recent, though very rare death of a matador, the debate surrounding bullfighting is reignited and the voices of those vexed and vile souls who seek to defend it are to be endured once more. Enfeebled as those voices may now be, they are not yet silenced, and every year across parts of Europe and America, thousands of bulls are put to death before a bloodthirsty crowd who gather to celebrate the tradition of slowly mutilating and taunting an already weakened animal, until a combination of agony and exhaustion force its capitulation to a brutal and undignified death.

For those who remain indifferent to the the description of such a death - you need not continue reading; these words were not written with you in mind, and i have no wish to communicate anything other than my contempt for you and the assurance that you stand apart from all that is good and admirable about humanity. For those readers capable of perceiving the magnitude of this depravity, i argue this:

The value of animal life does not need to be justified in terms of its value to human beings. Any natural and inalienable rights bestowed upon us by virtue of being human, which allow us to live free from the threat of torture and execution, exist on the account of our ability to experience such feelings of pleasure, pain and fear, and are therefore rendered insubstantial and left violable if they are not granted to all sentient life capable of experiencing those same feelings. Furthermore, if one wishes to take an anthropocentric view of the world - in which humankind takes centre stage with regard to the significance our existence, and argue that this is true on the basis of our cognitive abilities, then it becomes a moral imperative to challenge the occasions when we are acting in a manner which contradicts our claims of having the ability to reason, empathise and rationalise. Bullfighting - as with all bloodsports - makes a mockery of such claims, and the fact that it hasn't long been consigned to the annals of history should evoke a sense of guilt within us all, for we all must share culpability in the fact that this act of torture is continually supported.

As UK taxpayers, our money is used to indirectly finance this through EU common agricultural subsidies, which Spanish lawmakers allow a portion to go to farms raising bulls for bullfighting, and the tourism industry profits through the promotion of holidays which offer thousands of international tourists - many of them British - the opportunity to support this slaughter through spectatorship and direct participation in the many bull run events set up to subject the bulls to a shameful process of torment as they flee from their antagonists straight into the rings where they are to meet their death. This is something that we have the power to change, and must change - for the scourge of bullfighting is a black mark against civilisation and a betrayal of those that are most deserving of our compassion. It is time that the disingenuous cries of culture are finally drowned out by the resounding voice of reason and morality.