Animal Rights...Fighting for the Voiceless

The violence begins before conception. The mother cow is chosen for her tenacity in defending herself against painful punishment. If she passes the test she is bred by a bull chosen as much for his powerful body as for his aggressiveness. The bullfight thus begins with the aggression and forced breeding of the female. When the bull is fought four years later, he is methodically destroyed in moves calculated to dominate his tortured body and breach his dignity, through pain. This is never accomplished, although the bullfight does succeed admirably in showing an absence of human dignity in people. Corruption reigns before the bull is let out into the ring. If too spirited, the bull is beaten, his vision blurred, even bones are broken. If unwilling to fight, chemicals are painted on his legs to make them burn so he cannot keep them still and will appear spirited and eager to fight. Pins are often inserted in the genitals. It is important to realise that as herbivores, bulls are not by nature aggressive to people and normally attack only as a measure of defence when isolated from the herd. Once the bull is in the ring the torture is scientifically intensified to break his spirit and disable his body. As he comes in, a sharp instrument is rammed into his neck at the most essential muscle knot where his defence is generated. A few minutes later a “picador” on horseback twists a surgical steel blade into the bull’s neck to further destroy the muscles and reduce the lateral and vertical head movements, diminishing the danger to the matador immensely. The blood flows from the wounds of the neck in a continuous stream and in the weakness that necessarily follows, the bull is forced to spread his legs to keep his balance. Some bulls can’t take the pain and fall on their knees. When this happens, the crowd boos and throws bottles. If the bull takes the pain, the baderillas — scientifically designed to dig deeper and deeper with every movement that presents a threat to the men — are inserted. With the bull’s capacity to defend himself severely impaired, the matador comes into the ring to do his elegant passes, what Siqueires, the renowned Mexican muralist called “the dance of the butchers”. The statistics confirm the extent of the odds in the “contest of nobility” as bullfighters usually call the bullfight: one bullfighter dies for every eighteen-thousand bulls tortured and killed. More bullfighters die in automobile accidents than in the ring. Once the matador has strutted his stuff it is time to kill the bull. If the bull is to die quickly, the sword must be plunged with the proper force and in the perfect direction into an area of the neck the size of a bottle cap. It rarely happens. Most of the time the bull is gutted internally. The “experts” watch the colour of the blood pouring from the mouth of the animal and offer their educated guesses as to what is actually happening inside: did the sword enter the lungs? Was the aorta penetrated? Is he drowning in his own blood? At this point men with capes do all they can to force the bull to move so they can insure the destruction of the internal organs by the misplaced sword so the matador will look like a better killer. Sometimes the bull will collapse after a while. If death - as it often happens - still does not follow, eventually someone severs the spinal medulla with a special instrument and the bull finally dies. This calculated torment of the body is co-ordinated with an equally premeditated psychological effort to control the will of the animal. The bull, for example, will try to return to certain places within the ring where he feels stronger for one reason or another. These places are called “querencias” and appeal to the bull for various reasons. One “querencia” is usually by the entrance where the proximity of other bulls or the relative safety of confinement are near. Another is an area where the sand gets more shade and is more humid so the thirst created by the massive loss of blood is given hope of placation. Another is commonly a place where the bull has gored a horse and feels a little more hope of triumph. In all these cases the bull is methodically manipulated away from the “querencia” to intensify the psychological despair and establish fuller control of mind, spirit and body, in 20 minutes "a bull is transformed from a beautiful, energetic, proud animal into a defeated, humiliated, bloody, painful being, dragging his agony through the sand." While the suffering of the bull shows our capacity for premeditated cruelty, the suffering of the horses reveals a comparable capacity for a human lack of gratitude and dignity. The economics of the business take over. Inexpensive old horses who have worked all their lives are used for the bullfight. They can no longer serve their masters because their worn old bodies give out. Unable to exploit them any further and unwilling to maintain them any longer their owners sell them for a few pieces of money to be killed in the bullfight. One has to understand that people who sell their horses to be gored are by the very nature of the act not prime examples of responsible ownership. One has to understand how these horses are abused to appreciate the ingratitude this entails. One has to visualise what it is like to wake up in the morning with the slash of a whip or a slam of the stick. What it is like to be given a minimum of sustenance and to be forced to carry and pull weights that overpower one’s strength. What it is like to be forced to work in the intense heat of the Spanish summer with little water and to be given no protection in the intense cold of the winters. What is is like to live day to day without hope of anything different. When their broken old bodies finally give out, the horses are rewarded by making them the target of an enraged bull’s horns. The jaws of the horse are always shaking with fear. The horses are always gored. Nearby a man called a “monosabio” stands by. His job is to push the intestines of the horse back into the abdomen if another attack can be withstood. The success of a bullfight is often measured by the number of horses disembowelled and killed. If a horse does not die, gangrene invariably sets in, but if there is a chance he could be used again he is often kept alive until the next bullfight to be used again as target for another bull for a few minutes of tenor.

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