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Bullfight Protest in France Met with Thuggish Police Response

Photo by Edita Birnkrant

Photo by Edita Birnkrant

The bull-fighter … has merely demonstrated that he is a butcher with balletic tendencies.” — Brigid Brophy, “The Rights of Animals,” Sunday Times (London), Oct. 10, 1965.

State-sanctioned public executions were carried out in France this past weekend, while jackbooted police used tear gas to repel horrified protesters. Thuggish French officials would explain that such violence was necessary to defend cultural expression and the creation of art. That the French government defends bullfighting — legislatively, rhetorically, and forcibly — is totally unacceptable.

While the bloodsport is illegal in France, the country’s Neanderthal influence peddlers and policy-makers made sure a few years ago that barbarians in certain regions could conduct their savagery without legal consequence — and with defiant government support.

The politicians and those for whom they’ve enthusiastically bent over have argued that these legal exemptions were codified in the name of cultural heritage, which is as offensive as it is insulting.

An overtly jingoistic report published yesterday by French News Online — under the unsophisticated headline “‘Invasion Forces’ Repelled at Rodilhan Bullfight” — claims that “opponents tend to overlook both the historic and the economic importance of the bullfighting tradition in the region.”

What bullfighting apologists and enthusiasts in France are “overlooking” is their own psychopathy. Those who seek to profit by exploiting a troglodytic audience’s unabashed bloodlust — particularly when the sacrificial victims have no say in their participation — operate at the absolute height of callous arrogance. To delight in the brutal exploitation, torture, and murder of an animal doesn’t make one a cultural adherent, it makes him a monster. And a serial killer who sates his own bloodthirst in front of a cheering crowd is not an artist, he is, to quote Brigid Brophy, “a butcher with balletic tendencies.”

Photo by Edita Birnkrant

Photo by Edita Birnkrant

The editors at French News Online included — as an addendum to their propagandistic report — a commentary written by Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, and Carole Raphaelle Davis, an actress who works as the West Coast director of the Companion Animal Protection Society and as Friends of Animals’ director of campaigns in Europe, both of whom were in Rodilhan this past weekend.

Birnkrant and Davis wrote, in part: “As Americans, we were appalled at the violence of the police but the real horror show was going on inside the arena. We heard the aficionados cheering as bulls and young calves were being tortured and stabbed to death. Many activists, frustrated at not being able to jump into the ring to stop it, were crying and wailing.”

What the French News Online story failed to acknowledge was the impassioned resolve of those who will continue to stand up to monsters.

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