Spanish law does not hesitate to restrict our freedoms, preventing us from engaging in practices which it considers unnecessarily dangerous, and forcing us to comply by imposing fines and penalties. That’s why we have speed limits, no-smoking laws, and drink-driving laws. That’s why we are not allowed to drive or cycle wearing headphones and we have to walk dangerous dogs with a muzzle, to name but a few restrictions. Having accepted that the law is supposed to protect us, why does Spain not put a stop to the bull-related activity that goes on during the summer time?
Bull taunting, bull running and teasing, setting bulls’ horns on fire and provoking them and frightening them so that they run into the sea, often drowning, are dangerous practices which are nevertheless legal and are organised all over Spain, in spite of some horrifying consequences.
A couple of weeks ago, a 44-year-old French tourist died after being gored during a festival in which bulls were released into the streets in town of Pedreguer while videoing the event with his mobile phone. He suffered serious injuries and died later in hospital. Ten people were also gored at the famous nine-day San Fermin festival, but none died, while two others have been killed at other festivals in Spain in recent weeks. Several bulls died.
One would think that in this modern age, people would wholeheartedly support a ban on this activity, firstly because we condemn cruelty to animals and secondly because it is unacceptably dangerous to the humans who take part. The ‘tradition’ argument doesn’t hold up. If a tradition is bad then it needs to go and be replaced by a new, better tradition that amuses and entertains without putting participants in serious physical danger and torturing animals.
It can happen. Bullfighting was banned by a vote of the Catalan Parliament in July 2010. The ban came into effect on 1 January 2012. The last bullfight in the region took place in Barcelona in September 2011. The people of Catalonia are safer for it.
Surely Spanish town councils can think of better ways for their citizens to enjoy themselves than poking, prodding and running around with bulls?