Lynley Tulloch: Cruel cultural tradition right under our noses

Lynley Tulloch is a lecturer in education at the University of Waikato

Victor Barrio and Lorenzo the Manos bull had a terrible and deathly battle on Saturday, one that ended badly for them both.

Award-winning matador Barrio was gored to death by Lorenzo in a bull ring in Spain. He is the first matador to die this century.

A total of 533 professional bullfighters have been killed in bullfighting arenas since 1700.

It seems such an unnecessary and painful death, for both bull and matador.

As Barrio flicked his cape athletically and danced gracefully to one side, the bull saw his opportunity and took it. The horn deftly pierced Barrio's chest. It was perhaps a humane death in that he did not suffer long.

The bull, on the other hand, had endured hours of torture, and despite winning the battle with Barrio, would die at the hands of humans nonetheless.

No sooner had the blood of the hapless matador started cooling than a loud cheer rose up on social media. Many of those opposed to bullfighting called the death a celebration.

"With one less murderer walking around, the rest of us can rest more easily," said one commentator in a newspaper.

I am an animal rights activist, and I am risking the judgment of my peers here, but I don't agree that Barrio deserved to die.

I don't think Lorenzo had it coming either. Or his mother, who the culture dictates must also be killed to annihilate this pool of deadly genes. Not quite sure where Lorenzo's father is, mind you.

I don't see why his mother should be killed for Lorenzo's dastardly deed while his father is mooing happily somewhere nearby with some other cow.

"Mother-blaming" issues aside, I think the issues are bigger than Victor and Lorenzo. They are about our humanity.

And revelling in the matador's death is not doing the animal rights movement any favours. It simply polarises activists and bullfighters and allows the mainstream to push us aside as extremists. We come across as about as steaming mad as the air exhaling from Lorenzo's nostrils.

Lorenzo had every right to be angry. Bullfighting is a very cruel cultural tradition in which the bull suffers terribly before death.

While on horseback, a bullfighter will pierce the bull several times just behind the shoulder with a lance, which is 3.6m long with a pyramid steel tip. The aim of this is to temporarily reduce the bull's desire to charge.

The lead matador then comes in for the kill, piercing him right in the heart.

As a top matador, this was Barrio's job.

Except this time, Lorenzo beat him to it and turned the tables.

Frankly, I think the whole scenario is unfair on Lorenzo and his mother.

I really disagree with humans breeding animals for the sole purpose of "cultural tradition".

If you have a cultural tradition based on the suffering of another animal, then I say it's time to ditch that tradition. I don't care if it is sacred or not.

But on that note, we need to dig a little deeper beyond our brittle and thin cultural skin, and look at ourselves before pointing fingers.

New Zealanders have a sacred cultural tradition called the barbecue.

Many more bulls end up sizzling on its hot plate than die in a ring in Spain.

I think we need to look critically at our own cultural practices before glorifying in the death visited upon others participating in their traditions.

- NZ Herald

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