Baseball Toaster Cub Town
A Different Culture
2008-02-19 20:20
by Phil Bencomo

I don't know about you, but ethnocentrism bothers me to no end.

Take cockfighting in the Dominican Republic, for instance. For Dominicans, the sport is a national pastime and "a symbol of the country's warrior spirit," says the New York Times. "Nearly every neighborhood and country village has a gallera, or cockfighting arena, and the sport is legal and regulated."

But once Americans learn that their Dominican sports heroes take part in such perceived senselessness and degradation, everything changes. Suddenly, Dominicans can't be Dominican anymore. They must instead swap their lesser culture for the virtuous American way, critics say.

And that's what gets me. What right do Americans have to decide what is right and wrong in other countries? It smacks of presumptuousness and arrogance.

Aramis Ramirez and other Dominican baseball players dealing with the backlash are doing their best to make this clear, but they are still met with closed minds.

On Tuesday, before the first full-squad workout, Ramirez was asked about his involvement in cockfighting.

"I'm not going to let you finish that question," Ramirez said. "I'm not talking about that. That's personal. It's a different culture down there. I'm from the Dominican. Let's talk about baseball."

Was he surprised the story received so much attention?

"I said I'm not going to talk about that," Ramirez said. "Like I said -- I just have to say this -- it's a different culture in the Dominican, and that's it." [Link]

And that, I think, is enough ranting on my part for one day.

2008-02-19 23:08:38
1.   Bob Timmermann
I don't see this as a cultural difference as much as just some people not liking the idea of watching two birds try to maul each other to death. I'm sure there are people who live in the Dominican Republic who don't want to go to cockfights.

When I was in Spain, I was told to go to a bullfight. I found it to be one of the most barbaric spectacles on earth. And some Spaniards did too I learned.

A lot of people in the U.S. love boxing, but I don't.

I don't find this to be something out of my culture, but something that is personal to me.

So if Aramis Ramirez enjoys cockfighting, it's fine by me. Just don't expect me to enjoy it.

2008-02-20 03:02:23
2.   Christopher Heer
You said:

"And that's what gets me. What right do Americans have to decide what is right and wrong in other countries? It smacks of presumptuousness and arrogance."

Nonsense. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Would you have an issue if murder was legal? How about slavery? Of course, I'm not claiming that cockfighting should even be mentioned in the same breath, but the point is, if you think something is wrong, it's wrong. "Culture" isn't a valid excuse.

Personally, I find having animals fight for sport barbaric. I don't think I have the right to tell Aramis he must stop -- I'm not a Dominican legislator. But I do have the right to say it's wrong and that I think he shouldn't support the so-called sport.

2008-02-20 09:04:29
3.   dianagramr
Heck, I find horse racing inhumane. (for lack of a better word).

Did Barbaro need to die so needlessly, as we wagered on the outcome of a horserace?

2008-02-20 10:34:33
4.   steffens
Exactly right, Christopher. Phil, your exaltation of non-discernment as the ultimate virtue would mandate countenancing all sorts of evil, if consistently applied.

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