Samadet (France), February 4th 2007
Dear Member of the European Parliament,
It has come to our notice that Parliament's Written Declaration 0002/2007 advocates that farm subsidies to breeders of fighting bulls should cease and that the corrida, or bullfight, should eventually be banned throughout the European Union. We would like you to know the views of French men and women who feel that the bulls and the spectacles in which they appear are part and parcel of their culture.
Based on antispeciesist arguments, clearly of doubtful morality, these proposals deploy the full weaponry of intellectual terrorism against the European ideal, which has established the principle of subsidiarity to ensure that powers concerning cultural matters -- to name no others -- should remain with our countries' regions. This is a basic policy choice, designed to prevent cultural levelling and to encourage cultural diversity, something which enriches the Union.
If this principle is accepted, as it should be, it would be completely out of order for the future of a particular microculture to be determined by European institutions, at a time when the Union's own priorities include promoting the cultural identities of minorities, and all the more so as the legal framework within which taurine events may take place in France is perfectly well defined, by both statute and case law. This was explicitly confirmed recently by a vote in a plenary session of the European Parliament, when it rejected by a very large majority a proposal for the corrida to be abolished, on the simple ground that it had no powers to do any such thing.
Those who are against the corrida thus failed where they thought they had the best chance of putting their ideas through, and this is why they are now trying the different tactic of putting a stop to the EU subsidies for which breeders of fighting cattle qualify, just like other livestock farmers. This would eventually lead to many breeding enterprises being closed down, with the loss of many jobs, and a threat would hang over our fiestas and ferias, which France's towns, departments and regions consider to be a major economic interest as well as a matter of culture and identity.
The underhand nature of this attack will be clear to anyone who visits fighting cattle ranches in Spain, Portugal or France. Animal welfare there is better assured than in any other kind of cattle raising. The bulls will die in the arena, but that is more consonant with their nature than going to the slaughterhouse. It is significant that ten per cent of them may die each year fighting each other on the pastures, and this shows that, contrary to what those who are opposed to the corrida maintain, they are not domestic animals who are forced to fight. This is their nature and, rather than feeling guilty at offering them death in the bullring at the hands of men who are also risking their lives, we are sure that we are showing them more respect than do those who would have their breed disappear, apart from a few specimens preserved in game parks.
The death of the bull has been part of human history for thousands of years. Is this such a terrible thing that it should become a major concern of modern democracies? In that case, what about the violent deaths and wretched lives of so many thousands of human beings which are shown to us casually every day on our television screens? This debate has a dark side into which the European Commission might well inquire, by investigating, as various States now are, the real origin and the dangers of arguments which, under the cloak of animal welfare, are trying to undermine the foundations of our civilisation. It is also worth noting that a recent scientific study by the Complutensian University of Madrid has shown that the bull's organism reacts to wounds in a very different way from that of other animals, with large amounts of beta-endorphins being released. Their effect is similar to that of morphine and can last for four hours after they are secreted. Even if his wounds are plain to see, the bull does not feel all the pain.
We are accused of cruelty, but for us the death of the bull is a metaphor of human destiny. In the spirit of all the great monotheistic religions and the moral teachings which they have engendered, we take our responsibility for a choice which reflects symbolically the values we hold dear, and we reject this unseemly and confused lumping together of animals and human beings as equals. Whether determined by transcendent powers or evolving by complex processes, there is between man and animal a basic difference, upon which we insist.
The bull is not killed in the arena to satisfy any morbid lust. On the contrary, he calls forth essential qualities and values -- commitment, courage, intelligence, creativity, solidarity -- and he enables thousands of aficionados to commune around a simple idea: that man triumphs over chaos by rising above himself, and this highly metaphysical experience sometimes enables those who have it to feel a sense of eternity. For those who owe it their allegiance, the corrida embraces basic ethical and moral values and, far from being a barbarous anachronism which deserves to be stamped out as a matter of urgency, it fits in very well with a modern mentality whose search for meaning often leads in other areas to a loss of bearings. This is not the norm in our bullrings.
We feel certain that we are not running counter to any law or morality, and we hope that you will not only refrain from supporting Written Declaration 0002/2007 but will argue actively for its rejection.
If you do this, the French taurine world which we represent -- some sixty towns spread over four of France's regions, seven hundred clubs and associations, all the breeders of fighting cattle and the other professionals involved, various specialised publications, a million spectators entering our arenas each year, and millions of visitors who find that our fiestas and ferias give them a feeling of freedom which enhances their lives -- will be very grateful indeed to you.
Awaiting your reply, we remain most faithfully yours,
Signed by :
Union des Villes Taurines de France Association des Organisateurs de Corridas du Sud Ouest Groupement des Entrepreneurs de Spectacles Taurins Musée des Cultures Taurines Fédération des Sociétés Taurines de France Association Nationale des Aficionados Fédération des Clubs Taurins Paul Ricard Union des Bibliophiles Taurins Français Amicale des clubs taurins gersois Association Française des Vétérinaires Taurins Association Française de Chirurgie Taurine Syndicat français des toreros, banderilleros et picadors Association Française des Eleveurs de Taureaux Braves Association des Critiques Taurins de France Centre de Tauromachie de Nîmes Ecole taurine d'Arles Ecole taurine de Béziers Ecole taurine d'Hagetmau Collectif Terres Taurines