- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2007

Washington Times reporter Brian Blackwell recently discussed bullfighting with Mike Brazell, campaign coordinator with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Question: Spain’s state-run television network, Television Espanola, has broadcast live bullfights since 1948. But this season and a first in its history none of the bullfights have been shown on the network. What is your reaction to this decision?

Answer: We’re definitely pleased they won’t be showing this barbaric and cruel spectacle that its supporters consider a sport. There’s a growing dissent in the Spanish community for bullfighting and it’s one of the cruelest practices that goes on today.

Q: What do you feel has contributed to the network’s decision?

A: Just being there myself and witnessing the runs and bullfights during my visits to Spain, there are other parts of their culture such as beautiful beaches and museums that will bring tourists to the city instead. These bulls have sandbags dropped on their backs to weaken their muscles and petroleum jelly smeared into their eyes to cloud their vision before they enter the ring to face the matador. People are becoming more aware of the cruelty of the sport. As they become more aware of animal suffering, they don’t want to see it on TV. Spain is taking a good first step toward doing away with bullfighting.

Q: Recent polls have shown fewer Spaniards are attending bullfighting, especially young people. Do you feel bullfighting is a dying sport and may in fact be in danger one day?

A: One day, bullfighting will be relegated to only history books. In the past, things like slavery and oppression of women were part of our culture and we realize those things are wrong to do. Spain realizes this is the next logical step to be accepted into society.

Q: Do you think this is taking something precious away from Spain’s culture?

A: Tradition never has justified cruelty. It wasn’t right to have bullfighting when it first began and it’s not right to do it now. People are more aware of the cruelty. They realize that only cowards get into a ring with animals. If it was a real sport, the animal should be able to defend himself, and that is not the case. The matador in the ring just issues the final stab, and that must happen three or four times before the bull dies.

Q: The recent case regarding Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has created some discussion about whether dogfighting is a sport. Do you feel bullfighting is an athletic event or merely a cruel treatment of animals?

A: It’s ridiculous. A sport is something you choose to do. These animals don’t have a choice in this matter. Only a coward will say this is a sport. As in the case of dogfighting, two dogs rip themselves to shreds. There is nothing entertaining about that. More than 40,000 bulls are killed each year through bullfighting. Abuse in that graphic and violent way is something that shouldn’t be shown on TV or witnessed in person.

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