For the first time since 1995, someone has died during the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. I feel terrible for the young man, who was only 27, and for his family. But I also feel terrible for the bulls.
I understand that Pamplona is steeped in a tradition that dates to the 1400s. Ditto for the Sunday bullfights that fill arenas all over Spain. No matter how old the tradition, though, the Pamplona run—and bullfighting—are still wrong.
As a kid growing up in Mexico, I attended more than my share of bullfights. In fact, one of my cousins, Jorge Gutierrez, was a famous bullfighter. He used to send my grandma the occasional ear, a symbol of his dominance over whatever bull he’d slain. It made my family proud.
After a recent visit to Spain, my parents told me about touring the ring where Jorge was gored—for the second time in his career—while conducting an international tour:
My mom was especially moved by her visit to the operating room where the doctors had (barely) saved Jorge’s life. Naturally, she sided with her nephew. I felt more sympathy for the bull.
I’d never wish harm on my cousin, of course. He’s a warm, kind, handsome, generous man. But I still think his profession is wrong. I don’t understand the psychology of people who measure their bravado by the size of the animals they kill.
I’d respectfully suggest a different view:
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.