Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Public Reply to The Guardian

A Public Reply to The Guardian

Dear Sirs,

We have noticed in your article on bullfights in Barcelona (“Bullfighting finds a messiah as ban in Barcelona looms”, Sunday 11 October) an unattributed quote – a misquote in fact – from a letter that we sent as a reply to an earlier piece in the New York Times. This is the full text of that letter, with the relevant parts in highlighted:

“We find Michael Kimmelman’s story about bullfighting in Barcelona (“In a Spanish Region, a Twilight of the Matadors”, September 30, 2009) objectionable on many counts.

For one thing, it is troubling to see a NYT correspondent shamelessly take the side of those who find pleasure in watching the methodical torture and death of a frightened and disoriented animal. Tradition can be no excuse for cruelty. Not so long ago public executions were considered an acceptable form of entertainment in many parts of the world, but all enlightened nations have come to reject such barbaric pastimes. The mere fact that a given practice has been going on for a long time is no reason to condone it. Female genital mutilation is no less ingrained in certain cultures than bullfights are in Spain, but no one expects the NYT to mourn its disappearance.

It is also mistaken to put the widespread hostility to bullfighting in Barcelona down to a desire of Catalan nationalists to mark their distance from all things Spanish. If nationalism is part of the equation, the fault is mainly on the other side. It was the Spanish nationalists who in the mid seventies sought to revive what was by then a dying form of public recreation and turn it into a much-needed symbol of the regime that was being installed. Now the contour of a bull is often seen on the national flags waved by those making a show of their Spanish chauvinism in political rallies or international soccer games.

It doesn’t say much for Spaniards that, in an effort to stress their singularity, they could only find an ethnic totem in a tradition that is considered repulsive by most Europeans. National feelings aside, many Catalans share that assessment and it is to their credit that they should want to put an end to such a shameful custom in their own part of the world.

So we’re afraid that your correspondent has got it all wrong this time. For a more knowledgeable treatment of the whole question from an American point of view, we suggest that interested readers turn to Ms. Jodi Neufeld’s reply of October 3, 2009, to Mr. Kimmelman’s deplorable article.”

The quote was probably picked from a Spanish newspaper and then retranslated into English and put out of context. We would also like to point out that we are not “a group of supporters of the ban”. Col.lectiu Emma is a network of Catalan professionals living in different countries who have made it their job to try and set the record straight on news items published in the international press relating to different aspects of the Catalan economy and society.

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