The intellectual and moral development of a country can be measured by its recognition of the least vulnerable of its inhabitants and the resources it commits to ensuring that such inhabitants, be they humans or other animals, are protected in ways that promote a high quality of life. Of course, these progressive developments can be undermined by values that are not informed by ethics, but instead are influenced by unexamined religious, patriotic and traditional ways of behaving. Because such customary behaviors too often are not rigorously challenged, the cruelest acts are exacted against the dignity, health and life of many humans and animals.
The primary argument presented to support the continuation of barbarous practices, including those in which animals are used, is tradition. But some traditions, like female genital mutilation, stoning, slavery, the abuse of animals like the death of bulls during events in Spain like the Tournaments of Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas or Toro Jubilo Medinaceli, the ritual slaughter of animals in Nepal during the Festival of Gadhimai or the mass slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands, should be eradicated.
Such inhumane practices are not only in opposition to enlightened values, they challenge the core of our humanity.
On the first day of the festival in 2009, 20,000 buffaloes were killed in Gadhimai. It was estimated that the number of slaughtered animals has increased to 500,000 during the month-long festival. Given the numerous protests by animal rights activists, the Spanish governor from Gadhimai simply said that he could not, “interfere with a tradition of hundreds of years.” The representative of the Social Democrats in Spain, Pedro Sanchez, also claims to have absolute respect for the tradition of bullfighting. When the Danish authorities were questioned about the appalling slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands, they too defended this practice in the name of tradition. Tradition is not a credible or humane defense in which to give support for these kinds of atrocities. When an activity violates both moral values as well as human sensibility, it should no longer be condoned.