Thursday, 20 September 2012

Do Bullfighters Have Balls?


Of late, I have had an interesting exchange with my buddy Colin Davies as to the question whether bullfighters are brave or not. One silly argument my favourite Scouse brought to bear (but then: are there any other but silly arguments among bullfighting aficionados?) was that bullfighters must be courageous since they suffer so many injuries. Look at that: heroism depends on how many injuries you suffer! That’s new to me. Following that line of argument, I dare say that disco-going 20-year old boys who drink, drug and drive of a Saturday night must be the most heroic people of our age, since the casualties they suffer are considerably higher than those among toreros (1.3 a year, I believe, with one death every ten years on the average).

Bullfighters, my dear reader, are not courageous. True courage is a different thing. A truly courageous person (male of female) is a reasonable human being, who under most normal circumstances will go out of his way to avoid risk and danger, since his instinct for survival tells him so. But, under special circumstances, that same person decides willingly and knowingly to put his own survival instincts on hold, and himself at risk, to the benefit of some higher cause. A fire fighter is a good example of the admirable breed, but so are many military folk, whether you like them or not, and nuns that care for victims of a contagious pestilence in Africa, and… Oh, come on: you do know who and what truly courageous people are! You don’t need ol’ Al to tell you!

What then are bullfighters? Well: they are reckless. Against all human logic, they put themselves at mortal risk, so as to seek and cause cheap thrills, harvest applause that the vain of our species always insatiably crave, and to make a buck. This is not courage, dear reader. It is frivolity, of the same sort that pushes young people to go bungee jumping. Now, as far as I’m concerned, anybody who wants to can go jump as many bungees as he or she desires. But no mater how often you jump the bungee: it is not bravery we are speaking of, nor would anyone in his right mind think of calling bungee-jumping Art or Heritage or of protecting it with special EU laws which our enlightened masters in Brussels gladly extended to their barbaric Mediterranean friends.

All this aside from the fact that the whole of the Circus, or Corrida as it is called, is an exercise in cowardice. For there is no heroism when a perfectly trained man, who can predict the beast’s every move, faces an animal who sees the proceedings for the first and last time in his life and does not know what’s happening to him. How much heroism did the Emperor Commodus possess, I ask you? The brute fought in over 700 gladiatorial fights, to the great elation of the beastly crowd, but care was taken that he always battled inferior opponents who posed no risk to his life and well-being. They were there to be slaughtered, not to shine.

And that is not even mentioning that everything possible is done – legally or stealthily - to ensure that the animal will not stand a chance, such as ‘shaving’ of the horns, which not only reduced the risk of injury but also seems to have a most detrimental effects on the animal’s aptitude for coordination and motion; drugging of the bulls and selection on the lowest possible animal IQ. In fact, as soon as a bull shows signs of understanding the tricks and becoming a real adversary, he is immediately removed from the arena and slaughtered in the normal, slaughterhouse way. We would not want our heroic battle to become a fair fight, would we now??  That wouldn’t be fun. So much for the fairness of this sh**.

Do bullfighters have balls? Oh, certainly they do; but so, may I remind you, does the mass killer who walks into a kindergarten with an AK-47, knowing full well that the police will come and take him out as soon as he starts killing toddlers. And in both cases, I venture, the world would be a better place if those balls were surgically removed.


(For those of you who sign petitions: here’s one for you!) 


  1. Alfie, you traduce me, as I explained to you. You misunderstood what I wrote. I did not say that bullfighters were courageous simply because they had been injured. After all, Alfie, one can be injured running away from a bull. Or a dog.

    I said bullfighters were brave simply because they went into the ring with bulls. But particularly so if, like Tomás, they'd been seriously injured previously.

    I haven't read past my citation yet and will now do so but my impression earlier was that you re-defined 'bravery' to give it a moral dimension. So I will now read on to see if you're still doing this . . . .

    1. My dear boy: of course bravery has a moral dimension! Tat's why we give medals to people who sacrifice themselves to save others, but not to suicide terrorists!

    2. For me, anyone doing a sky dive is brave. There's nothing moral about what they do. Possibly immoral - use of the earth's resources, etc.

      Not all bravery involves sacrifice for others.

      I would like to see your definition of bravery. And how it compares with the dictionary.

      Here's Google's: Courageous behavior or character.

      Courage: Not deterred by danger or pain; brave.

      It certainly is possible to be both immoral and brave.

      You cannot just condemn anyone who doesn't fit your moral code to the 'reckless/foolhardy' box.

      All bombers in the war were brave, not just those flying east.

    3. So, if I understand you well: according to you the 9/11 firefighters and the 9/11 terrorists were equally Brave? Nay, wait! The terrorists were braver, because they looked death straight in the face, while the firefighters - presumably - hoped to get out alive! Oh, what a bunch of unbrave sissies they were!

      Your definition of Bravery, my dear Colin, is a sorry one.


    4. So, what's yours?

      It's debatable whether someone who's been brainwashed to believe his death will mean eternal happiness, starting with numerous virgins, is being brave.

      I don't have a definition different from the one I quoted. I simply believe it's not conditional on someone's or some society's definition of 'moral'

    5. What is mine?

      Read the above post, for my definition. You are a lawyer, for crying out loud! Do you need an OED description? How boring!


  2. Oh, by the way, I am not an aficionado. If I were, I would not have turned down the invitation to join the 'best' peña in Ponters, run by a friend of mine.

  3. I know it's a part of the culture and much-loved tradition... but I do wish the humans would leave the poor animals alone.

  4. Completly idiots for me. One is gored twice in scrotum, this one is gored before five years in eye (he loose eye) and yesterday was gored again in face...
    they play with dead, on wrong way, and in this game often loose bull, after many injuries and cruelity.