Struggle for Cultural Independence
Frames Catalonia Ban on Bullfighting
An old cultural Spanish tradition may have its days numbered as the parliament of Catalonia voted to ban the torada, the practice of killing bulls for public enjoyment. What is also known as corrida has been part of Spain’s national image for centuries and it’s celebrated as an art form. Nobel Prize Winner American writer Ernest Hemigway was one such enthusiast and once wrote, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.”
Almost as old as bullfighting is Catalonia‘s struggle to reaffirm its separate cultural identity, and language, from Spain. The vote underlines the region’s claim to greater independence and may set the tone for a complete ban on the practice in the rest of the country. That’s also what animal rights activists, who see bullfighting as a remnant of the country’s medieval past with no redeeming qualities, are hoping it happens.
Fundación Equanimal‘s José Ramón Mallén says that “this (vote) is not about politics and Catalan identity, but about ethics and showing that it’s simply wrong to enjoy watching an animal getting killed in public.”
It’s too bad, then, that in the eve of such historical rejection by Catalonians of the way this formidable animal has been treated for centuries, scientists from Valencia, ironically also considered part of Catalonia, seem to be navigating the opposite direction.
No one knows why now, but the nonprofit Fundación Valenciana de Investigación Veterinaria just announced the birth of Got, the first cloned fighting bull. Although one could hardly say it by just looking at the dark brown calf born May 18, Got’s the only living representative of Pedraja, a ferocious lineage that goes back 300 years.
It was all done in the name of science, of course, the scientists have rushed to say, but the Guardiola family, who owns Got and 20 other still frozen embryos of the lineage, hasn’t said anything about not making a profit in the future by selling studs sired by the cloned bull.
Who did say something against it was, again, those pesky activists, this time, Eurogroup for Animals‘ Sonja Van Tichelen.
“The underlying motive is clearly profit, with no consideration for the pain and the deaths of many animals as a result of this Frankenstein technique.”
So it goes that when we finally right something that has been wrong for so long in one end, we usually find a way to screw it all up on the other side. But clones don’t normally last that long; Dolly the sheep got sick and had to be euthanized after only six years.
Let’s just hope bullfighting as we know it will be banned all over by then, so they’ll have no one to sell their expensive cloned animals to be killed for the delight of a dying breed of aficionados.