“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Given Gandhi’s quip, this weekend’s “farra do boi” (or party of the oxen) will prove yet again that in terms of morality, many in
Farra do boi is one of those archaic, justified under the banner of culture and tradition, events of barbarity and savagery that would make the seal hunters of
Here’s what some in
“Farristas” as they are called, or “knuckle draggers” as I refer to them argue this is “all in good fun”, and of course use the mother of all scapegoats citing that, “it’s all about preserving Azorean culture” like culture is some sort of static concept that trumps all.
Santa Catarina was mostly populated with people from the islands of
To the Federal Government’s credit, Farra do boi was made illegal in 1998 under Law 9605, however the State government thumbs its nose at the federal authorities and still refuses to officially acknowledge this “tradition” as being a “crime”. Governors have openly defended the blood-sport and this gives community members the impetus to “fight for their culture”. Some communities, Governador Celso Ramos for example, have renamed the event “Brincadeira do boi” or “playing with the bull” in the hopes that sweetening the name will somehow magically distill the cruelty and idignation.
Some progress is being made, and with more and more “outsiders” (and by this I mean people from other regions in Brazil) moving to Santa Catarina, there is less and less tolerance for out and out barbarity.
Many of those participating in Farra do boi – as it has been commented -- are actually using the bull and this tradition as an excuse to exercise cruelty over fellow human beings. It’s often been said that animal cruelty is a pathway to violence against people.
When and if Police are called to stop an episode of farra do boi (as required by law) the community and those participating turn on them. Every year the papers are filled with violent clashes between those participating and those appalled; few if any are ever prosecuted and so each year the army of blood thirsty thugs grows.
I had the not so great pleasure of finding myself trying to protect a women who had placed herself between the bull and the community last year. Although my concern was not over the bull but over the women’s safety which was obviously in jeopardy, I was still mobbed, brutalized and beaten for "interfering". Hit from behind, like most cowards tend to do. Actually, when it was clear that I was a “foreigner” the beating intensified (I’ve not talked about
A knife was wielded, and I am certain that if the police had not arrived in time, I’d be just another body in
Farra do boi will continue. Many in