Inexcusabull Behavior

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So this guy in Spain had his 10-year-old son with him for the weekend, and he thought a good father-son activity would be to participate in Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. His ex-wife found out about it, and now a judge has revoked the guy’s visitation rights. So we see that the United States is not the only country plagued by activist judges.

Where does this guy get off telling a man he can’t be with his own son just because he let a bunch of a giant angry animals chase him down a narrow street? Oh sure, judge. I guess YOU’VE never intentionally endangered the lives of YOUR children! I guess YOU’RE a perfect father! Judge not lest ye be judged, Judge.

But I am being facetious, like the twinkly-eyed pixie I am. Of course the judge was right to penalize the man for his outrageous lapse in judgment. But it brings up a serious issue, namely: Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls; or, more specifically, what’s the deal with Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls?

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Note to bad fathers: If you endanger your child’s life in public, there’s a chance a picture of it will appear in the newspapers, thus bringing your shenanigans to your ex-wife’s attention. Consequently, you should only endanger your children’s lives in private.

Now, I am very sensitive to people’s feelings. I would never dismiss another culture’s traditions as being “stupid” or “hilarious,” no matter how stupid or hilarious they were. But I must make an exception for the Running of the Bulls, which I want to go on record as saying is stupid and hilarious.

They’ve been doing it for 500 years? Don’t care. It’s part of their heritage? Don’t care. It involves setting deadly animals loose down a narrow corridor and then trying to outrun them? That’s all I need to know. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been going on, or how big a deal it is, or how much of a fan Ernest Hemingway was, if the point is to voluntarily put yourself in front of aggravated, horned beasts, then the event is idiotic, period. And practicing it makes you, by definition, an idiot.

People are always so worried about criticizing other people’s cultures. We’re afraid of being called racist or insensitive or whatever. I guarantee you there are people in this world who would say, “The Running of the Bulls is a part of Spain’s rich cultural heritage, and while it may not be my cup of tea, it means something to the people of Spain, and far be it from me to dismiss it out of hand” … yet who would also say that Johnny Knoxville’s “Jackass” is moronic, even though they’re exactly the same thing.

I’m not afraid to say it, though! AND THAT’S ONE OF THE REASONS I AM SO AWESOME.

My understanding is that for many Spanish men — you’ll notice it’s always men who do this — running with the bulls is something of a rite of passage. It’s a way to prove that you’re macho and manly and rugged. The man in the news story, Luis Miguel Gomez, told city officials that he wanted to take his son to other bull runs in other cities, too, presumably to make a man out of him, although possibly just to kill him. It’s a great example of how screwed-up men’s thinking can be. “How can we demonstrate to ourselves and the world that we are courageous and brave? I know! By putting ourselves in danger … and then running away from it!” Yes, there’s no better way to establish your manliness than by fleeing in terror from something. What’s the matter, cowards? If you really want to be brave, stay and fight the thing!

Oh, wait. I guess they have that, too. Bullfighting.

Bullfighting is also stupid, now that I think of it. It’s barbaric and cruel, too. It’s amazing that a developed, educated nation like Spain still allows it. I mean, Mexico, sure. They didn’t even have electricity in Mexico until 2003. But Spain? Aren’t they embarrassed by now? I would think bullfighting in Spain would be like Alabama in America: Yeah, it’s part of who we are, but let’s try not to dwell on it.

Nonetheless, I can’t really get on a “high horse” about these things, except of course during the annual running of the high horses. America may not have bullfighting, but we do have dogfighting, which has recently been in the news because of Michael Vick.

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Michael Vick is, apparently, a professional football player of some renown, acting in the capacity of what’s called a “quarterback” for an organization known as the Atlanta Falcons. Two weeks ago he and three other men were charged with arranging dogfights, gambling on the events, and cruelly killing dogs that failed to fight viciously enough. Some of the underperforming dogs were electrocuted or drowned. Vick is alleged to have had hands-on involvement in every aspect of the operation. He has pleaded not guilty on all charges, but no one believes him.

The weird thing about all this is that professional football players are usually really, really smart. How did Michael Vick get wrapped up in something so dumb? He’s losing his endorsement deals, and the NFL has suspended him while it conducts an investigation. He could wind up losing millions of dollars. You know you’ve really screwed up when football fans — the most red-blooded, meat-eating group of people on the planet — are on the same side of an issue as PETA. In fact, anytime you’ve got normal people agreeing with PETA, you must have done something spectacular. Well done, Michael Vick.

At least that Spanish guy’s son actually wanted to run “with” (by which I mean “from”) the bulls. Michael Vick’s poor dogs never had a choice in the matter. Dogs usually have no interest in fighting unless you present them with an enemy, such as a cat, or a sock. Jerks like Vick and his buddies train them to be vicious and doom them to a life of pain and suffering — which would be fine if they were sharks, because sharks are mean anyway, and watching them fight would be awesome. But not dogs! You shouldn’t mess with dogs that way.

In an ideal world, Vick would go to prison and learn for himself what it’s like to be compelled to fight for survival. Unfortunately, he’s rich and famous, so any real prison time is out of the question. We’ll just have to hope that someday he takes a wrong turn and ends up in the middle of the annual Running of the Angry Dogs. That would be hilarious, and not at all stupid.

One of the interesting side effects of not following sports is that you can see the name "Michael Vick" repeated dozens of times as you glance at news stories before it finally sinks in that he's done something that even you, a non-sports-follower, might care about. How long had this story been going on before I paid any attention? It could have been years.

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