Acclaimed South African writer JM Coetzee didn’t mince words this week as he dispatched a scathing letter to the Culture Committee of Spain, criticising its support for bullfighting.
The Nobel Prize winner’s rousing message urged committee members to reject a pending initiative, sparked by bullfighting aficionados, which would give bullfighting legal protection as a “cultural pastime”. Here’s an extract:
Bullfighting is an archaic form of entertainment. It is a violent, bloody spectacle – a throwback to a time when people took no heed of the feelings of animals and the bull was an object of torment for boys who wanted to impress their fellows.
Bullfighting has had a long history in Spain, but times and sensibilities have now changed. Today, we see clearly that it is not fair to pit a skilled, practised, sword-wielding matador against an unwilling, confused, maimed, psychologically tormented and physically debilitated animal.
Tormenting and butchering bulls for entertainment belongs in the Dark Ages – not in 21st century Spain.
A committed vegetarian , Coetzee has spoken up for animals before and writes about the moral case for compassion in books such as Elizabeth Costello and Disgrace, which won the Booker prize in 1999.
Every year, more than 40,000 bulls are violently slaughtered during Spanish bullfights. It’s an indefensible situation, and 76 per cent of Spaniards say that they have no interest in the barbaric ritual.
The good news is that the movement to end bullfighting is creative, diverse and constantly growing! Just last week, supermodel Elen Rivas also appealed to Spanish authorities, and thousands of people rallied in Alès, France, against the cruel industry. Animal-protection groups are working together to stop the proposed measures to protect bullfighting, and in the last few weeks alone, more than 13,000 PETA supporters in the UK have written to the Spanish ambassador. Will you join them?
Bullfighting image: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals