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EDITORIAL: Bullfighting? Americans should refuse support

The Arizona Republic

Oct. 22, 1999

Entrepreneur Mario de la Fuente plans to make a lot of money exploiting one of the most enduring and ugly stereotypes North Americans have about Mexico: that it is a place to go to do things you would never do at home.

De la Fuente hopes Americans will fill most of the 5,000 seats in his new bullring in Nogales, Sonora. He wants them to spend money on blood sport that's forbidden in their own country.

This is not exactly our idea of a cross-border cultural exchange.

Bullfighting is cruelty animals. Those who insist that its history makes it a sacrosanct part of Hispanic culture do a great disservice to Hispanics.

Yes, it has historic roots in Spain. So did the conquistadores who destroyed the Aztec empire. Both Spanish and Aztec roots deserve reverence in today's Mexico, but that doesn't translate into a call to resurrect the Aztec cultural custom of human sacrifice.

The human species has evolved since then. At least some members have. On his Web site, Lorenzo Pena of the Campaign for Animal Rights Against Bullfighting in Spain, chronicles the cruelties inflicted on bulls both before and during the "fight."

But most insightful is his assessment of the spectators: "They relish the cruelties. They belong to that third of the human population whose aggressiveness has not been mastered by civilizations, those who everywhere enjoy brutal, bloody shows and videos."

Bullfighting has opponents in Spain and Latin America. Those who play the culture card in its defense look more desperate than convincing.

Those who try to portray bullfighting as some noble battle between man and beast are also loopy.

The image of a lone human facing down a bigger, stronger animal speaks to some ancient memory of Stone Age survival. But a match between a confused, wounded animal and an armed matador puts the bull at such a disadvantage that the matador's ultimate triumph is hollow. Sure, a matador has to conquer his own fear to enter the ring. But there are less barbaric ways of achieving that kind of personal growth. The bull has no choice and stands little chance.

Arizonans do have a choice whether to participate in this wretched display. They can say "no." They can pay Mexicans the ultimate compliment of refusing to buy into the old view of Mexico as an anything-goes kind of place where you can forget your manners and your morals.

They can stay away in droves from the bullring in Nogales.

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