March 2, 2012

"The bull’s horn pierced the fighter’s lower jaw and came out through his left eye socket."

But 5 months later, Juan José Padilla is back in the ring.

Padilla says "I’m here to promote bullfighting and not to get involved in politics," but it's a big political fight in Spain:
Since 2007 and the start of the financial crisis, bullfighting has come under pressure in Spain because of public subsidy cuts, slashing the number of fights by more than a third. Catalonia stopped bullfighting in September, after its regional Parliament voted to ban it.

But in November, the conservative Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, returned to power after almost eight years of Socialist government. Mr. Rajoy is himself an aficionado of the sport and his party has long spearheaded efforts to enshrine bullfighting in the national cultural patrimony.
How do you feel about bullfighting in Spain?
  
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59 comments:

Bob said...

Padilla is actually the second one-eyed bullfighter to make a comeback after losing an eye in the bullring. James Michener, in his monumental tribute to Spain, Iberia, wrote of a bullfighter named Miguel Domínguez who fought for 17 seasons after losing an eye: He is known in taurine history as Desperdicios (Cast-Off Scraps, from the contemptuous manner in which he tossed aside his gouged-out eyeball). Padilla could, then, take "Desperdicios Segundo" as his nickname, if he so desired.

hawkeyedjb said...

d) Bullfighting in Spain is none of my business.

prairie wind said...

I try hard to be libertarian on this but can't do it. Bullfighting is barbarian and should be banned.

Those guys could move over to ballet or something else that requires grace and a killer instinct.

DADvocate said...

Fighting bulls make great ground beef. The meats too tough for steaks, but it's lean and healthy. Next thing you know, wusses like prairie wind will be telling us fishing is barbaric and McDonalds should only sell soy burgers.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I thought judging other countries cultural traditions was verboten?

LarryTheOlder said...

I saw a bull fight in Juarez, Mexico in 1958. It was awful! No animal should have to go through that kind of torture. The "death thrust" of the sword didn't kill the bull and they had to twist the horns, back and forth, to get the bull to expire.

Jim Gust said...

The bull does not have a fighting chance. The bull is stabbed repeatedly by the picadors before the "fight" begins, and is so weakened from blood loss that it is in no way a fair fight.

When I learned this in high school Spanish class, I switched to German.

Spaniards should just go to a slaughterhouse if they enjoy watching animals be killed. At least there the torture is less.

prairie wind said...

wusses like prairie wind will be telling us fishing is barbaric and McDonalds should only sell soy burgers.

That made me laugh out loud, Dad! I love fish--in the water and on my plate. My brother grows soybeans so I have no quarrel with soyburgers, though I won't eat one.

edutcher said...

Hoosier has a point, but, if it was done here, PETA would protest.

Then they'd set up burger joints right next door.

traditionalguy said...

The matador is a celebrated hero for his courage. That fact irritates the wimps no end.

If men killing animals is too harsh for your little St Francis souls, then don't watch, but stay home where it is safe, play some tiddly winks or knit pink sweaters for your poodle.

knox said...

The matador is a celebrated hero for his courage.

LOL

DADvocate said...

That made me laugh out loud, Dad! I love fish--in the water and on my plate. My brother grows soybeans so I have no quarrel with soyburgers, though I won't eat one.

I was joking. I'm glad you laughed. Unlike LarrytheOlder, I wouldn't go to a bull fight where they actually kill or intentionally injure a bull. It's actually worse than dogfighting. A dog faces off with it's physical and intellectually equal. I think most bullfighters are much smarter than the bull. Plus, it's torurous.

Martha said...

With vision in only one eye, the bullfighter has lost binocular vision. He has no depth perception. I pity him going up against a two-eyed bull.

Because of strabismus I am unable to fuse the images from both my eyes so essentially I am one-eyed and without depth perception. There are many ways to compensate but certain occupations would be impossible for me --like bull fighting.

Steve Koch said...

It is torturing an animal for human entertainment. It should be outlawed.

virgil xenophon said...

First bullfight I ever saw was over semester break in Monterey, Mex., in 1965. We were all obnoxiously drunk and cheering for the bull (O-Fing-LAY!, lol) People got up in ever-expanding concentric circles to get away from us, lol.. When in USAF pilot training in Del Rio, TX, we used to go across the border to eat & drink at a restaurant/bar called "Ma Crosby's" which had a small training bull-ring out back where aspiring young teenagers would work out against juvenile bulls. Again, per usual, we all drunkenly cheered for the bull..

Unknown said...

I am half spanish and I think bull fighting is barbaric--but thats just me. As described, picadors, on padded hourses lacerate the shoulder muscles so the bull has to lower its head. Every now and then a horse will eviscorate one of the picadors mounts with guts spilling all over the arena. Then the bandilleros come out and place lanced in the bulls shoulder to further lower its head--Yeah--this is prime time shit alright; some more unscruplous areanas also file the bulls horns so they arent as sharp avoiding what happened to matador Padilla. The torero comes out and leads the bull thru its paces to further weaken it, and finally the matador (killer) will plunge his muleta between the bulls shoulder blades--If the matador doesnt miss, the bull collapses in the area spewing blood--if the matador misses, then it gets a bit messy.

Good clean fun indeed

no wonder Spain is a carbuncle on the ass of the civilized world.

And I say that as one whose family is from Asturias, the town of Pravia.

Roger J. said...

Sorry--the above screed about bullfighting is my responsibility.
Was on another gmail address.

The Drill SGT said...

Hehe, If I were a bull, I'd rather live longer get a chance to breed some heifers, and take my shot at sticking a guy with the cape.

The alternative for a male cow?

castration, feed lot and become steaks early while I'm tender...

William said...

As Hemingway would say, he wasn't afraid to work close to the horns. Still, that's a bit too close......I saw one bullfight. I found it to be very cruel and would not like to see another. It seemed especially hard on the horses....It's their country, but not every custom is worthy of preservation.

Roger J. said...

Sorry trad guy--agree there is the bullshit hero worship of courageous matadors, spread like folks like Hemingway--It would be courage to face the bull were it not otherwise weakened, but I dont see the courage involved in an unfair fight. YYMV

Michael said...

It is a great spectacle but not for the faint of heart or those who think that animals are really people with underdeveloped linguistic skills. If you have never attended a fight I would highly recommend it. You will witness something that is profoundly violent, profoundly unnecessary and stunningly compelling. You will be surrounded by people who understand and respect what happens in the ring. You will be disgusted and hopefully humbled.

Before the fight see if you can visit the pens and see the animals up close. You will have a different opinion of the matador's courage afterwards.

Some, few, bulls are pardoned or granted an indulgence if they have fought well and the audience appeals for their life. Indultado.

Roger J. said...

Michael--I saw all that shit in combat when my opponents were armed--thats a bullshit argument. Put the Hemingway down, and read something on the battle of Stalingrad or Berlin.

Roger J. said...

Or--if you like violence, blood and gore, come over to the Med in Memphis on a saturday nite.

Harold said...

None of my business- NIMBY. It's in Spain or Mexico, or some other country.

Try to bring it here, as a "cultural tradition? Just say NO!

Like bear baiting, dog fighting, cock fighting, and the like- it has no place in American culture.

Bob said...

You should all bear in mind that bullfighters aren't motivated primarily by a desire to kill animals, but by the normal human desire to enjoy prosperity. Bullfighting is one of the traditional ways that poor boys in Spain can become wealthy and famous. Not many do; it's no different in that respect from finding your way onto an NBA team if you're a poor black kid in a ghetto.

And bullfighters, as this story illustrates, are still maimed and killed regularly in the bullring; in the mid-1980's when I lived in Spain, two of the top matadors, Paquirri and El Yiyo, were killed. No one doubts that combat soldiers face death regularly, at least in wartime. Bullfighters face death regularly, too, and never have the benefit of peacetime.

Roger J. said...

Bob--I take your point, and you can make the argument in economic terms--but what is the percentage of matadors killed in the bull ring versus bulls killed in the bull ring--And yes, I know Murcia breeds and produces fighting bulls; and I know Murcia bulls are not an endangered species. But it seems to me we are diminished as human beings by engaging in bull fighting or similar activities.

Michael said...

RogerJ: I am sure you are correct about combat but the ancient rites of bull fighting are certainly different. I have, by the way, read of the battles you suggest. Not the same. Hemingway is not my kind of writer but I did try his book on bullfighting and found it tedious.


I grew up in Memphis and as a boy rode the bus from Colonial Acres to downtown. By myself. The main library was on Front Street and I walked the length of Main and Beale and once walked all the way home. The downtown for very obvious reasons is not what it once. I can't go back for those reasons but I know those who have stayed have prospered and love the place. You write movingly of the city by the way.

Roger J. said...

Michael--I love memphis, and in fact live in colonial acres on Ivy Road--great city, and much underappreciated--has its problems, but has a great restaurant and music scene. Not just blues and BBQ (although those are great). My lady and I went to the new symphony series called Opus One held in the rumba room on south main--a mix of classical and latin where the audience sits cheek by jowl with the musicians.

I got to tango, rumba, mambo and salsa to the players from the symphony--great times.

Synova said...

I think that Rodeo clowns are just as brave.

Braver.

I tend not to favor banning this sort of thing just because it's horrible. I have a number of hard to articulate reasons for that. Among them is ...I don't think it helps us to indulge a mindset that puts too much value on animals. We end up with judges convicting a guy for killing a cat that was ripping his face off and comparing it to killing a person in cold blood. Keeping clear of that sort of psychosis is worth gritting one's teeth and tolerating the LEGALITY of something abhorrent. (No reason not to apply social pressure, however.)

I also think that our current culture has accepted a sort of pathological belief system that whatever one does to animals (say-eat them) or hunt is going to cause man's inhumanity to man and any sort of violence, like boxing or soldiering is going to warp normal people into sociopaths.

And yes it is all related, as everything in life is related. Not causal. I'm not trying to argue a logical progression from one thing to the next. Not linear. Just not isolated.

EDH said...

Descriptions of the gradual process of weakening the bull before administering the coup de grâce reminds me of how socialist governments treat disfavored elements of the private sector.

Every once in a while the bull finds the strength to raise his horns before it's too late.

Roger J. said...

Michael--I do completely understand the role of bull fighting in spanish culture; I am half spanish myself--I am not sure what point to make here. I was an avid hunter for many years of my life; toward the end of my hunting career, I would flush game birds, lift the shotgun, but stopped pulling the trigger. Cant really explain that, but finally sold my shotguns and stopped hunting altogether. I suppose I was no different than the toreros and matadors when I was younger. Somehow it got old for me. I dont claim any moral high ground since a shot my share of game. At some point in my life, when I was in my late 50s it just seemed irrelevant. I really dont know why I stopped. Hunting isnt the same as bull fighting, I know, but the end result became increasingly irrelevant.

Michael said...

RogerJ: Ivy is a beautiful street. I basically grew up on the south east corner of Parkside and Ivy.

Loved the city but urban "renewal" removed so many of my favorite landmarks and white flight relocated commerce to the east and then to Germantown and beyond. Not the same place. Alas, Payne's BBQ remains as does the Tops on Getwell and Rhodes.

Michael said...

RogerJ: I am less bloodthirsty as well. I once shot high volume doves in South America and said it could only be better if when they were hit fire came out of their assholes and they screamed. Much toned down now in my sixties. The hourglass has much to do with these changing views.

Roger J. said...

I would like to thank the commenters on this thread--clearly I am not an aficionado of bullfighting, but I recognize that I have done much the same thing with other critters in my hunting career--this discussion genuinely helps me to understand my motives, and appreciate the forbearance of commenters who have put forward their positions. For those whom I might have offended, my apologies.

Life is complicated. And it doesnt get any less complicated as I get older.

Roger J. said...

Michael--as it turns out, Parkside and Ivy are two blocks from where I live--it is indeed a small world.

tim maguire said...

Who could possibly object to torturing a bull to death to the cheers and jeers of the coliseum crowd?

How many of you weak-wristed liberals objected when the Romans were doing it to Christians?

But oh nooos! somebody's doing it to an animal! And suddenly your all up in arms.

Typical.

tim maguire said...

I have a pretty easy time distinguishing between killing for food and self-defense versus killing for fun.

I wonder about the people who don't see a big difference.

The squirrel that you kill in jest dies in earnest. Henry David Thoreau

virgil xenophon said...

@Harold/

Sorry to disabuse you of the facts, but Cock-fighting has enjoyed a long and honorable tradition in rural areas in S. Carolina OK, and Cajun S.W. Louisiana, to name but a few..

Roger J. said...

Tim--I dont really see this is a liberal/conservative argument--I am a rock ribbed conservative with libertarian social tendencies. I think the issue is a bit more complex than you can make it with a dichotomous distinction.

Roger J. said...

I dont suppose this is the time for a joke, but what the hell--so this cajun walks into a bar where dog fighting is going on in the back--he has the short squat dog with no tail and is bright yellow--the regulars make fun but the cajun says OK, I will match my dog against any of yours--they take him up and the ugly yello dog just chews up his opponents--on the way out the cajun is asked: damn man--that some dog--what kind is he. The cajun replies, he was an alligator before I cut off his tail and painted him yellow.
Apologies in advance.

Michael said...

Tim. And the thousands involved in breeding bulls and buying and selling bulls and printing programs and selling tickets and producing food for the spectators and the writers who cover it for the papers, the guys who haul the bulls ,who dispose of the carcasses, the participants in the event, the musicians, the horse traders and haulers and picadors and toreros, the stadium owners and their trainers and physicians and morticians should all just go fuck themselves because it bothers you.

Roger J. said...

To be clear: I have qualms with bullfighting as I have stated, but it is ultimately up to the Spaniards if they wish to continue it. Thats my libertarian streak coming out.

traditionalguy said...

The Mediterranean culture, that also brought us the Siclian Mafia as shown in The Godfather,likes to sacrifice bulls in a public ritual.

The Texan culture just rides bulls.

Bulls were the gods to Minoans and Egyptians but they are usually defeated in a western Bull Fights and Rodeos.

OK, what's your issue? Does blood make you faint?

Methadras said...

I don't like it. I've been to many bullfights when I was younger and went to Mexico often to party and see them. After a while I started to develop a distaste for them completely and and stopped going. I wish they would stop them completely. I do think it's barbaric to taunt an animal into exhaustion trapped in a ring and then finally when you are done with him, you drive a curved blade through his back and into his heart. Hopefully, it's a quick death, often times it isn't and they just bleed to death.

A legacy of the Spaniards that somehow if they cling to it even more tighter that the world won't ignore them completely as they fade off into the socialist sunset.

bagoh20 said...

I'm a carnivore, and I try to also be compassionate toward animals. I think all us beef eaters should have to kill our own burgers just like this, but without the bull being weakened first.

You would arrange your hunt date and then go for it in the ring with only a sword and cape. Kill it and you can buy it.

That will get you to stretch out that meat as long as possible. This could even be a kind of diet plan.

Michael said...

bagoh20: Good idea, but I think after your first bull you would go for the weakening first approach.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, but if you could develop an effective technique, think of the chicks that would be after you.

"Where's the beef?"

Mitchell said...

Bullfighting is cruel, vicious and immoral.

It is also unfair.

The bull is heavy, violent, abusive and aggressive with four legs and great sharp teeth, whereas the bull-fighter is only a small, greasy Spaniard.

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Joe said...

One of the few times in my life I've been genuinely disgusted almost behind comprehension was watching a bullfight. I didn't know they were so one-sided--they not only torture the bull first, the "fighter" then tortures it more and finally stabs it in the forehead. The last thing is humane ONLY if the bullfighter stabs the bull just right, otherwise, it's more torture.

traditionalguy said...

Right after our NFL in our Cities' version of Bull Fight Arenas stops its human concussion rituals, then we can ask about a Bull's momentary suffering in Spain.

The matador's red cape waived to fool the bull is so similar to the deceptions pulled by NFL linebackers aiming to smash NFL quarter backs like Colt McCoy in the head and put them out of the game.

It just makes me sick to see such cruel football violence... and then there was Joe Theisman's leg.

I will have to go lie down now.

Skyler said...

I predicted to my Spanish friends back in the early 90's that their entry in to the EU would bring the end of bullfighting.

I love bull fights. It's an amazing thing to see.

MrCharlie2 said...

I'm broad-minded liberal, so:

d) Bullfighting in Spain is none of my business

Unknown said...

Bullfighting is a grand play, with the bull in the role of man, and the matador in the role of fate.
It's a tragedy writ in blood and dust.

It's bloody, brutal, and ends in death. It's also beautiful, graceful and profound.
Yes, it's barbaric. That's the point. Life's great truths are rarely civilized.

By all means, root for the bull. That's really kind of the point. The courage they show is breathtaking. Honor the fight they show. And sometimes, albeit rarely, they even win.

There is catharsis here, if you choose to look.

tim maguire said...

Roger J, please reread my post with a more jaundiced eye. I refuse to put "/sarcasm" after a post that over the top.

Michael, apart from the fact that you greatly exaggerate the number of people who make money off it, that's a bullshit argument and you know it.

Michael said...

Tim. Ok, but i will remember that arguing for the workers, for the people is not your thing. They are a bullshit argument. I feel that way about Chrysler actually and they only build crappy cars.

phx said...

Yes, it's barbaric. That's the point. Life's great truths are rarely civilized.
- Jeffrey Dahmer