Different cultures have different trademarks. In parts of America, people like to race pigs. In places like Haiti, cockfighting is a standard pastime. In India, elephants are treated and revered as sacred creatures. These different human-animal relationships reflect certain qualities of the different cultures where they are practiced, and whether or not they’re ‘good or bad’ is something still up for debate.
Spain is infamous for bullfighting. A matador, carefully dressed in his ceremonial garb, flirts dangerously with an angered, half-ton bull. He teases the bull, dodges its charges, and eventually plunges spears into the back and flanks of the powerful creature. The ceremony ends when the bull dies, perhaps awarding the matador with the virtues of strength, honor, and bravery. If the matador fails, so too does his masculinity. Bullfighting can be difficult to watch, though there is something oddly compelling about the tradition which surrounds it.
However, people are now looking at bullfighting as cruel and unnecessary. The Spanish lawmakers of Catalonia, Spain’s most North-Easternly autonomous community bordering the Mediterranean Sea, have recently made movements in that direction. Starting in 2012, in a movement passed in Catalan’s parliament, bullfighting will be banned in Catalonia. This is good news for Spanish animal-rights activists and Spanish bulls.
However, the new movement has not been met with celebration by everyone. Polls show that most people support the new Catalonian law, but the the parliamentarian votes at were not overwhelming. Of the 135-seat house, the vote was 68 to 55, with a mere nine abstentions.
Visitors to Spain may feel a need to observe a bullfight, just to understand the energy surrounding the tradition. Some may approve of the practice, but if the recent changes in Catalonia are any indication, the end of this tradition itself may be coming sooner than later.