This isn’t about animal rights, it’s about common decency

Even for opponents of bullfighting, celebrating somebody's death is senseless

The president of Spain’s Bullfighters’ Union, Juan Diego (left) with lawyer Vicente Conde, explain the legal action they are to take against people who posted hate messages celebrating the death of bullfighter Víctor Barrio.
The president of Spain’s Bullfighters’ Union, Juan Diego (left) with lawyer Vicente Conde, explain the legal action they are to take against people who posted hate messages celebrating the death of bullfighter Víctor Barrio.Luca Piergiovanni / EFE

How is it that somebody who considers themselves a defender of animal rights and who fights to avoid their mistreatment in cruel spectacles is also able to show unrestrained joy at the death of a person during said spectacle?

Surely it runs counter to all logic to believe that it is shameful to kill an animal for entertainment, but that it is not shameful to celebrate the death of a human being? By the same token, if the idea is to condemn the existence of spectacles based on the suffering of an animal, isn’t the bullfighter who puts his life on the line part of the same spectacle? Shouldn’t somebody who mourns the death of a bull also mourn the death of the bullfighter?

The social networks are filled with messages about the death of bullfighter Víctor Barrio in Teruel’s bullring on Saturday that can only be described as disgraceful

Common sense would say that the answer is yes to both questions. But not in Spain, it would appear. The social networks are filled with messages about the death of bullfighter Victor Barrio in Teruel’s bullring on Saturday that can only be described as disgraceful. Aside from the insults, witticisms and gallows humor that have been posted, there were many expression of happiness at the death of the bullfighter. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes bullfighting, it must surely be clear to anybody with a minimum of sensitivity that celebrating a death is plain wrong. But in Spain, sadly, we have become used to “anything goes” when it comes to defending our corner, forgetting in the process that the end doesn’t justify the means. Causes that lay claim to being based on civilized values, should, by definition, avoid using forms of expression that in reality negate that basis of those civilized values.

In any event, the many disgusting comments that have been posted on the social networks over the past couple of days celebrating the death of Victor Barrio certainly haven’t done animal rights groups any favors, and most have unequivocally distanced themselves from them. The public prosecutor’s office is looking into whether these tweets and Facebook comments constitute threats or incitement to hatred, while the family of Barrio has hired a legal firm that will also look into whether those who have posted hateful messages can be prosecuted.

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The social networks can be a dangerous place for people who cannot control their feelings: they feel able to say things via a smartphone they would almost certainly never dare to say to somebody’s face. Some of these comments are signed, but many of the more insulting are anonymous. The social networks can be an unpleasant place as well, especially when there are so many unpleasant people prepared to launch attacks from behind the guise of anonymity. What they seem to have failed to understand is that when they have committed a crime, that anonymity vanishes: the police will soon find them.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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