La Estocada

Fortunato Salazar interviews Bette Ford, April 2011

The famed American matador on Catalonia’s impending bullfighting ban, the art of killing well, and her friendships with Hemingway and Norman Mailer.

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It’s a commonplace in American culture that the attitude toward bullfighting is unconflicted: having once valorized it in our literature and film, we now loathe it. We consider it barbaric, blatantly cruel, despicable, an anachronistic spectacle we’ve disowned even as a fit topic for reasoned debate. We’ve relegated our involvement with bullfighting to our less enlightened past. Even when, in July of last year, history was made in the Spanish region of Catalonia, where the parliament voted 68-55 to ban bullfighting, the news received only a modicum of notice in the American media. The debate leading up to the Catalonian ban was fiercely pitched, yet elicited little or no substantial commentary in this country, even though it addressed issues of animal rights and animal suffering that have long been in the spotlight of our national discourse.

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