28 July, 2010

The Corrida

The region of Catalonia in Spain, which includes Barcellona, votes today on whether to ban bullfighting.

I confess I have only been to one bullfight, which was enough, and find myself quite unable to agree with those who regard it as an art. Nor would I particularly want it as a tradition, although the Spanish doubtlessly feel differently.

The ban is likely to pass, I hear, due to an unlikely alliance between Catalonian nationalists, who will ban anything that is traditional in the rest of Spain in order to differentiate themselves from it, and the European and American animal rights lobby. The philosopher queen Pamela Anderson, she of the enlarged swimsuit in Baywatch all those years ago, has declared for the ban; I do not know whether Bono the singer or George Clooney have joined, but when the gods speak the people must listen.

We get quite a lot of bans, don't we? In the past, though mildly disgusted by the speactacle of the bullfight, I have rather envied the Spanish their insouciant dismissal of other nations' claims of brutality. But the Prime Minister, Mr Zapatero, is the Heir to Blair and the attitude of 'I don't think they should be allowed to..' has pervaded, replacing the tolerance of allowing people to do what they want as long as it hurts no one else. It can hardly be said that bullfighting is an outrage to public decency, since it has been going on for such a long time. And of course you don't have to watch it.

Just a little of me feels this is a bad day for Spain and for all of us.

PS the practice of attaching fires to the bull's horns on religious festivals will not be banned. Well, it's religious, isn't it?

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