A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Sep 13, 2010

Bloodless Bullfighting in the Name of Religion must be Stopped

Bloodless bullfighting has been legal in California since 1957 as long as it is "held in connection with religious celebrations or festivals." (California Penal Code section 597m) Absent a religious connection-it is illegal, a misdemeanor and animal cruelty. The bull is in a ring, grabbed and tackled by numerous "grabbers", charged at by bullfighters on horseback, and, of course, decorated spears are thrust at the bull sticking to his neck with an adhesive. Essentially, in front of thousands of screaming fans, a bull is tormented, taunted, humiliated, manhandled, wrestled, and terrified, in the name of religion.

The California Attorney General found that there must be an event of religious significance to permit this conduct and not just a blessing "intended to embrace a sporting event conducted primarily for profit to which a religious rite is merely an adjunct." (64 Ops.Cal. Atty.Gen.151) It is then that a bull is permitted to be treated, in a way otherwise prohibited, in deference to religious freedom. The suffering of the bull is not now considered a compelling state interest sufficient to interfere with a religious practice. Ergo -bloodless bullfighting without religion is a crime. Bloodless bullfighting with religion is a family outing.

How can this be tolerated and encouraged in the name of any religion? What tenet or example of moral conduct is taught by this example? What lesson are the children learning from this spectacle? Do they idolize the bull fighters and practice on their own pets? Do they wonder about a religion that condones this type of violence? Do they believe that if their parents and religious leaders encourage this behavior, it is worth emulating? If these children were at a cockfight their parents could be charged with endangering the welfare of a child. In this scenario, men torturing a bull before cheering fans offer them a lesson - a lesson that ultimately rewards their loss of empathy and lauds their desensitization to the anguish of the bull.

It is time that we, as a humane and evolved society, repeal this exemption. It is time that we view the prevention of cruelty to animals as a compelling state interest - even a moral imperative. It is time to stop this.

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