Musings on a barbarian's interests
Having now seen it, I can’t justify bullfighting. In my mind, there is no question that many aspects of the sport stray far too far into the realm of animal abuse to be seen as justifiable. Moreover, to me, something “sporting” is something where all participants have a reasonable chance of winning. In bullfighting, the bull inevitably is killed (a small fraction of bulls are spared due to their courage during the fight – as determined by the judges), and the matador and his entourage seem (and I saw the #1 and #3 ranked fighters in the world) too protected, and too quick to run even to make it seem like they are taking on that much risk (though as many as 100 gorings occur per year, only 5 matadors have been killed in the past decade or so — see here). This is not to argue that the sport is skill-less; the sport would be death for amateurs (as shown for example by the death of a imitator this summer in Peru — see here).
I intellectually believe in what I just wrote; still, the guttural aspects of the sport – its intensity, its colors and noises, compelled my attention in a way that few other things have. What is it about bloodsports that allow them to so easily grasp our attention? Would it be different if it were man v. man? – indeed, I think not. In writing this I realize I am admitting to a certain primal hold that something, somewhere deep down has over my worldview – or at least that perceptory filter that modulates what I enjoy. Does this admission compel me to curtail that which is internal to me, or, rather, does this point to the need for institutions to help us save us from ourselves? I strongly believe the latter to be true, even though the Hemmingway-wannabe in me hopes to see these fights again.