Bullfighting: Justifying Cruelty with Tradition

Spencer Lo

The judges on France’s Constitutional Council, a 9 member body, ruled yesterday that bullfighting does not contravene the constitution, rejecting a challenge by the animal-rights group CRAC who seeks to ban the practice nationwide. Although bullfighting is prohibited in certain parts of France, the tradition has remained popular in the south – particularly in the Nimes and Arles areas – for the past 150 years. Professor Diane Marie Amann offered a brief analysis of the Council’s ruling here. CRAC contended that an exception contained in the country’s criminal code which explicitly protected bullfighting—if it occurs in regions “where an uninterrupted local tradition can be invoked”—violates equal protection principles (“The law…must be the same for everyone, with respect to protection as well as to punishment”). In other words, because bullfighting is prohibited in some areas on animal cruelty grounds, the same practice should be prohibited everywhere, otherwise unequal treatment would result. Rejecting this argument, the judges affirmed the tradition exception as constitutionally permissible. But the decision raises the obvious question, what’s so special about tradition? Why should entrenched cultural traditions, however humanly significant, take precedent over the welfare-interests of animals?   Read more

Odd Animal Laws, Odd Culture

This is a guest post by Kenji Crosland, a writer for TeachStreet.  Teachstreet is a website that provides online and local classes, including classes on law and pet training classes.

In the effort to preserve a certain semblance of order certain laws (don’t steal, don’t kill) have been universal since Hammurabi, although the punishments for disobeying these laws have varied greatly. Laws concerning animal cruelty, however, are unique in that they are not necessarily “required,” to keep the peace.  For a society to establish animal cruelty laws it needs to reach a certain level of moral development.  These laws, just like the humans who created them, however, aren’t perfect, and those imperfections can give us insights into a particular culture.

These days, India and countries in Europe seem to be the most progressive, while others like China are slowly adding laws to the books.  The US is a study in contrasts: while some states are on the progressive side, there are others that are far from it.          Continue reading

The United States Doesn’t Torture? Animal Testing in the Military

Charles J. Rosciam is a retired captain with the Navy Medical Services Corps – a combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient.  He and 16 other retired armed forces medical personnel are attempting to convince the Department of Defense (DOD) to stop torturing and killing animals as part of its trauma training program.  Each year, in the name of national security and good medicine, 8500 animals get stabbed, shot, burned and amputated.  Over in the chemical casualty program, vervet monkeys get tormented with drugs whose effects have long since been banned on the field of battleanimal-testingCaptain Rosciam and his colleagues would like to see all that come to an end.

In June, the group joined with the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to brief both the House and Senate on the issue.  The DOD’s own animal regulations require that non-animal substitutes be used whenever possible.  And, according to PCRM, every one of the military’s medical uses of animals could be replaced with equivalent or superior non-animal methods. Those methods range from human-patient simulators to rotations through civilian trauma centers.

Here’s a little bit of irony: Amidst all the controversy and perseveration over detainee torture and whether such grotesqueries are legal and/or acceptable given the heinous crimes the prisoners are alleged to have committed, no one has stopped to consider why it is okay to do all that and worse to beings whose innocence is beyond dispute.  Of course, in the larger scheme, innocence or guilt is irrelevant; Torture is wrong no matter to whom it happens.  And that’s precisely the point here.

When our former president said the United States does not torture, he lied.  When our current president says it, he‘d like it to be true.

Let’s hope he hears and heeds Captain Rosciam.

You go, sir.  Fight on.

–David Cassuto