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Chris Matthews on Bullfighting

Chris MatthewsChris Matthews is the host of Hardball (MSNBC) and The Chris Matthew Show (NBC). He was a presidential speechwriter for the Carter administration and a top aide to former Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil.

In his 2001 book, Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think, Chris Matthews exposes the horrors of bullfighting.

At Barcelona’s Corida de Toros – which he appropriately calls a “death walk” – Matthews “witnessed a series of gang attacks on a half-dozen extremely confused animals.”

So what does he think about these “sportsman?” For one thing, matadors are lazy: “Instead of doing their work with a single thrust, they spent the afternoon sticking as many as three separate swords into their assigned bulls.” Moreover, matadors are cowards: “The second the matador got in trouble, every time a bull turned too abruptly towards him or failed to follow his cue, the matador’s claque of banderilleros would emerge from behind the fence to lure the bull away and their boss to safety.”

Most important, Matthews accurately captures the egregious cruelty inherent in this barbaric form of entertainment: “the real dirty work of the modern Spanish bullfight … is when one of the banderilleros takes out a penknife, stabs the wounded bull between the eyes and then sticks the blade into the animal’s ear and gouges him to death as if he were a young boy cutting the core from an apple.”

Anyone who has witnessed this despicable tradition knows that bullfighting is inherently unfair; it epitomizes un-sportsmanlike conduct. Thus, Matthews refutes Hemingway’s famous depiction of the great battle between man and animal in Death in the Afternoon. “The bullfight is not, as it is so advertised in movies and literature, some great heroic test of wits between man and beast.” Rather, it “is less a one-on-one affair and more a gangland-style execution.” Finally, in a series of rhetorical questions, Matthews reveals the inherent paradox of this “sport:”
But if the bull were so stupid, why is so much effort made to keep him confused throughout this so-called sporting activity? If he is so lacking in basic intelligence, why is the fighting bull kept from the sight of a dismounted man until he enters the ring to be killed in the first place? And if the bull requires so much effort to be confused, why is he the worthy object of so much of our torture?

As a widely respected political analyst, Matthews has opined on countless controversial stories and issues. However, in his own words, since he first analyzed bullfighting in 1990, this subject has “produced more reader reaction, pro and con, than any column I’ve written before or since.” Please take just a minute to formally thank Chris Matthews for his tough and accurate portrayal of bullfighting. Send him an e-mail at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Excerpts taken from:

Matthews, Chris. Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think. New York: The Free Press, 2001.

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