Why does Adrian Mourby seek to glamourise bullfighting ("In the bullrings of Portugal, the horse is the star of the show", 16 October)? He describes "plunging bandarilhas into the bull with one hand, controlling the horse with the other". There was no condemnation, nor the slightest sympathy for the poor bull or for the horse that will be gored by the bull in its agony to escape its persecutors. By promoting and encouraging the deliberate and sadistic torture of an animal for sheer entertainment, any concept of animal welfare is seriously undermined. Articles of this nature send out a message that desensitises the public into accepting cruelty generally.
Do you know what happens to those horses, how they get gored, how their insides spill out? In Spain, their vocal cords are severed to spare the public the screams. Before they get to the ring, the bulls are weakened by dropping heavy weights on their backs, their shoulders are punctured with irons, they are administered laxatives, and their eyes blinded with petroleum jelly. How your paper can glorify bullfighting with its unspeakable cruelty to bulls and horses is beyond me.
Adrian Mourby's host, plying him with wine and cigarettes under the severed heads of bulls and horses, is no better than a British badger-digger or dog-fighter. A badger-digger once told me that he became so addicted to such savagery and violence that it became his lifelong "drug".
I am Portuguese, and Portugal is much more than these disgusting bullfights. We are civilised people, and bullfights are a cruel and a barbaric practice. Torture is not culture.
Maria de Lourdes Feitor Carape
Your article "Queen flies in to Australia as republicans fade out" refers to an "anti-British streak" in the Australian psyche, and relates this to the motivations of the Australian republican movement. The Australian republican movement is not anti-British, anti-monarchy or anti-Windsor; it is simply in favour of an Australian citizen holding the position as our head of state, as elected by our people or our parliament. It is not anti-British to want as head of state one who can apply for a passport, live in the country without a visa, fight in our military or vote in our elections. I look forward to a day when Her or His Majesty visits Australia's shores as the representative of the nation which founded us, and meets our politicians, citizens and the Australian head of state as equals.
As Alex Salmond inches his country "quietly towards independence" ("Westminster has no answer to the Alex Salmond effect", 16 October"), what of the other party in the divorce – England? Westminster politicians, of all political hues, steeped in the traditions of Empire, have a choice. They can engage with the people of England and Scotland to achieve an equitable outcome to the end of this doomed union, or continue stubbornly down the path of blinkered Britishness until they are finally forced to accept the inevitable – that Great Britain entered its death throes at the end of the 20th century and England will rise again as an independent nation in the 21st.
Stapleford Tawney, Essex
You report that "Schools [are] to ban skirts if pupils don't lower their hems", because girls are at risk of attack (16 October). If the specious premise behind this bizarre reasoning were to be brought to its logical conclusion, all girls would have to be completely covered with a burqa. Some cultures have thought like this, and are doing so. Is this where we want to go?
Joan Smith suggests that Oliver Letwin's constituents might not be pleased by his latest faux pas, placing constituency correspondence in sundry litter bins while ambling through St James's Park ("A man who does his thinking in the park is not all bad", 16 October). But I am quite happy that, as my MP, Mr Letwin should use his time dealing with his surgery correspondence in such an efficient fashion. He is presented with a problem. He deals with it. Management gurus should use this as an exemplar of good time management. However, I would like to know what happened to the journalist who rifled through the bins for my correspondence, a breach of the Regulation of Interception Powers Act that carries a tariff of up to two years in prison.
Playwright Edward Bond is teased for likening David Cameron to St Francis "walking on the water" (Diary, 16 October). Maybe he was referring not to St Francis of Assisi, but of Paola. He walked across the Straits of Messina.
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