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Parent opposes bullfighting portion of student trip

Sunday, June 15, 2008
Special to the Gazette

KALAMAZOO -- For hundreds of years, bullfighting has been a part of Spain's cultural identity.

To Diane Garlick, it amounts to nothing less than animal torture.

Garlick's 16-year-old daughter, Liz, is among about 30 students from Hackett Catholic Central High School preparing to head to Spain on Tuesday for a 12-day trip to learn more about the country and practice their Spanish. Garlick says the school should think twice about having bullfighting as one of the activities on the trip.

``I just don't think it's right for anyone to participate in blood sport, especially American high school students,'' she said. ``Some things are moral and some things are immoral. (Bullfighting) is immoral.''

Bullfighting is usually performed in three stages, during which the matador and his assistants first sizing up the bull as it enters the ring. Next, two lances are lodged into a mound of muscle above the bull's shoulders. Later, two razor-sharp lances are stuck into the bull's flanks, further tiring the bull and making it more aggressive.

Finally, the matador plunges a sword between the bull's shoulder blades and into its heart or aorta, killing it.

Vicki Cessna, communications director for the Diocese of Kalamazoo, said alternate activities will be available for Hackett students who don't wish to attend the bullfight. But, she added, that though the activity is viewed as torture by some, it's still an important part of Spanish culture.

``The goal of this trip is to immerse students in that country's culture,'' Cessna said. ``Bullfighting is an integral part of Spanish culture and has been for centuries.''

On the trip, now in its ninth year, students will also be taken to museums, churches, mosques, synagogues and other culturally significant destinations, Cessna said. The bullfighting portion will last about three hours.

Bull breeders in Spain currently receive a subsidy of about $400 for each bull they raise to fight and die in the ring. But legislation before the European Parliament would end the funding, putting animal-rights activists and bullfighting culture lovers at odds. Bullfighting is illegal in the United States.

Garlick, who said she is ``very satisfied'' with the education her daughter has received at Hackett, said she has received support in her opposition to the bullfighting excursion from several animal-rights groups she has contacted in the United States and abroad.

``I agree with cultural immersion, just not this,'' she said

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God's Creatures Ministry is committed to spreading God's compassion to all He has made based on The Scriptures. Although we are a Christian Ministry, we encourage all to have their own animal welfare committee in their community. We extend our resources to those who would like to learn more or begin their own God's Creatures Ministry as an extension of us. God created us to have a vegetarian diet and commissioned us to protect His animals. Instead, we have exploited them for our entertainment, fashion, appetite and useless, torturous research. These creatures have the right to live as they were created to live. Because we live IN this world, but are not OF this world, we strive to bring God's mercy and justice to all. We live in God's Kingdom now where Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, The Prince of Peace, The Lion of Judah reigns. We look forward to that day when all of creation will be 'set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God' (Romans 8:21) where a little child will lead and guide God's creatures (see Isaiah 11:5-9).

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