Acclaimed novelist JM Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, has sent an urgent letter to the members of Spain’s Culture Committee calling on them to reject the current initiative, proposed by bullfighting aficionados, to give bullfighting legal protection as a “cultural pastime.” In the letter, Coetzee points out that bullfighting is nothing more than a cruel relic of a bygone era. “[Bullfighting] is a violent, bloody spectacle – a throwback to a time when people took no heed of the feelings of animals,” writes Coetzee. “Tormenting and butchering bulls for entertainment belongs in the Dark Ages – not in 21st century Spain.” Every year, more than 40,000 bulls are slaughtered during Spanish bullfights. In a typical bullfight, lances are driven into a bull’s back and neck muscles, resulting in significant blood loss. Banderillas – bright sticks with harpoon points – are then stabbed into the bull’s back. The dying animal is finally stabbed to death. Sometimes the bulls are paralyzed – but still conscious – as they are chained by their horns and dragged out of the arena. Seventy-six percent of Spaniards say that they have no interest in this barbaric ritual, and the industry survives only because of subsidies from Spanish and EU taxpayers. Any move to protect bullfighting would be a huge step backwards. This isn’t the first time that Coetzee has spoken out against animal abuse. He also worked with PETA Asia in its fight to end the systematic abuse of baby elephants in Thailand and asked the EU to implement a ban on bullfighting throughout Europe.