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October 11, 2011

Talk Back: Victories for Sharks and Bulls

Last Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation banning the sale and possession of shark fins in the Golden State, brushing aside a well-financed lobbying campaign by the finning industry and a segment of the Chinese-American community who argued that the measure was racist. (Brown also signed six other bills backed by HSUS, but vetoed two bills we had urged him to sign. See the details here.) The defenders of shark finning said that only Chinese-Americans consumed this soup, and that the legislation amounted to an attack on their tradition and their heritage.

Tiger shark swimming

Anybody who follows The HSUS knows that our anti-cruelty work is culture- and color-blind. We take on cockfighting, even though some Latinos, Cajuns, Filipinos, Thais, Vietnamese, and others embrace it as part of their cultures. We do the same with dogfighting, whether the people involved are rural whites or urban-based African-Americans. We fight sealing in Newfoundland, even though these sealers in Atlantic Canada identify sealing as part of their tradition and a centuries-old practice. We take on cruelty wherever we see it, and we don’t suspend our scrutiny because of the color of the skin of the perpetrator; we are more concerned with the bright-red blood on the skin or fur of the animal victims.

A couple of weeks back, I celebrated the news that Catalonia, a province in Spain, had outlawed bullfighting, putting to rest the notion that Spaniards are not opposed to this sort of barbaric spectacle. Compassion for animals is a universal value and a measure of heart and wisdom, not ethnicity or heritage. And this is what defines the broad community that is The HSUS—such as, to name just one, the thousands of Chinese-Americans who took the side of sharks, not soup, in California.

Readers of this blog had plenty to say on the bullfighting ban, and here are a few of your reactions.

Thank God this horrendous sport has finally come to an end in Catalonia. I hope this nightmare will end in the rest of Spain and all other countries which permit this cruelty to take place. —Patricia D. Brodie

I was elated to hear about Catalonia's new law going into effect to ban the cruel industry of bull"fighting." This sadly misnamed brutality actually involved no fighting, no sport, nor anything resembling ethical behavior; just plain, inhumane torture of innocent animals for entertainment. I say good riddance to it wherever it still exists, and may it be relegated to History's Great Dumpster of Really Bad Ideas, along with slavery, gladiator fights, and witch burning. —David Bernazani

Slowly...but's humanity dispels his inhumanity. "Culture" cannot be a barrier to compassion and reform. —Joanne Hedge

As a child I saw a romantic movie about bullfighter heroics. My mother, no stranger to plucking and cleaning chickens while I watched, explained to me how the bulls were killed. That haunted me until I grew to realize what a hideous act of cowardice bullfighting is. The sooner the practice is banished from planet Earth the better. —Arden Allen

Great. Let's keep going into the other regions of Spain. And Puerto Rico, didn't the president swear to uphold the laws of the country? —Bob Howarth

I'm Catalan and I'm very proud right now! —Pepa Bagaria

Fabulous news. There is no more blatant display of wretched human barbarity than bullfighting. Finally, an end to it in one Spanish province. —Marc Paulhus

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