29 July 2010

Bull-y for Catalonia

We Calgarians have a long history of tormenting animals for entertainment. Once a year we endure the ritual of rodeo at the Calgary Stampede. Progress toward ending this primitive "sport" is glacial. I was greatly pleased therefore to read that Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region of Spain, has banned bullfighting. The Catalonia parliament voted 68 to 55 to become the first region of mainland Spain to outlaw the spectacle.

The popularity of bullfighting in Catalonia has been in decline for years. Only one bull ring remains - in the capital, Barcelona. It stages only 15 fights a year and they rarely sell out. Nonetheless, the ban is a signal victory for both animal rights and human decency.

Like rodeo, bullfighting is often defended on the basis of tradition. But tradition should never justify cruelty. According to centre-right politician Josep Rull, most Catalans agree. "The suffering and death of a living being," he said, "cannot be turned into a public spectacle."

If only we could convince Calgarians of that.

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