by Katy Kappele
If you think bullfighting is illegal in the States, you are wrong. While it is true that traditional Spanish bullfighting, where the object is to prove a man’s courage by killing a bull, is illegal, Portuguese “bloodless” bullfighting is an exception to the rule. I say “bloodless” advisedly, because the bull is not harmed by sharp objects as in Spanish bullfighting. The bull has no such niceties imposed upon him.
I have heard the arguments about animal cruelty in bullfighting, and some of them still apply to this version. Although the entire event is accomplished with traditional instruments tipped with Velcro instead of metal, the bull is still terrified and is forced to run around charging at people for the better part of 10 to 20 minutes.
But we Americans glorify rodeos with a big grin and a six-pack. We cheer when some brave cowboy climbs on top of a terrified, trussed-up bull and rides it for a matter of seconds before he is thrown to the ground and rodeo clowns lure the bull away with brightly colored cloths. And that’s without mentioning “bull poker.”
Rodeo riding has none of the artistic mastery of bullfighting. Pretty much any hick can climb on top of a bull and get thrown off — matadors train for years in order to dance with bulls.
The “bloodless” version is incredibly fair to the bull. While the human beings are forced to do the bull no harm, he is free to gore them, maiming and even killing his tormentors. The men who fight him are tiny and weak in comparison to the bull’s tremendous power, but have the capacity to plan and manipulate.
If he were just another bull born in America, he would have every chance of being castrated and dumped in some fattening pen to be force-fed corn, which he does not like to eat, and then at the tender age of two or three be shipped off to become hamburgers.
At least a bullfighting bull gets to live a good four years as a bull, romping about in fields before he is brought into a ring, where he has every chance to kill the men who will fight him. Then he gets to be beef.