Spain's two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, have become involved in a debate about the place of bullfighting in Spanish culture, according to this article in The Daily Telegraph: Spanish bullfighting should be given UNESCO protection.
Officials in Madrid have been championing the cause of bullfighting aficionados, claiming that the 'art', which has inspired the likes of Picasso and Hemingway, should be officially protected, while the Catalans in Barcelona have called the act 'inadmissible torture' and have called for it to be banned.
A local philosopher, Jesus Mosterin, stood before the Catalan parliament and went so far as to liken bullfighting to "the primitive and abominable custom" of female circumcision.
But at the heart of the debate are concerns that matter much more to Catalans than the brutal killing of innocent animals - namely, the 'independence' of Catalonia from Spain. It is suggested that bullfighting is Spanish, not Catalan, and that Catalonia loves animals more than the rest of Spain does. Anti-bullfighting campaigners in Catalonia find it impossible to separate the direct aim of their political cause from their wider nationalistic pride. (As indeed, do most subversive political groups in Catalonia. Catalonia's communist party has a hammer and sickle on a Catalan flag, the irony of which has been lost on any Catalan communist I've tried explaining it to). Can their animal rights sentiments be taken seriously when seen in such a light?
What do you think of the stance of the Catalans? Is it acceptable to kill bulls in the name of tradition? And even if we accept that it isn't, is it worth wasting so much political energy on saving a few thousand bulls when far more animals die in more brutal ways in substandard slaughterhouses throughout Spain and the rest of the world? And what of Mosterin's comments - does he trivialize the plight of women in developing countries simply to justify his own nationalistic fervour? Leave your comments below.