Crud & sand: CHARC takes a bullfighting lesson by Steve Hindi

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1998:

On the morning of August 22, 1998,
Chicago Animal Rights Coalition members
Greg Hindi and Ike Goetsch attended a bullfighting
school in San Diego, the so-called
California Academy of Tauromaquia, to
receive a free introductory lesson.
The “school,” and the two individuals
who run it, drew our attention via media
reports. Having recently documented the actuality
of 28 recent bullfights with close-up
video, we now hoped to explore the bullfighter
Greg and Ike were on time.
Instructors Peter Rombold and Coleman
Cooney came late. There were supposed to be
other students, including some from Mexico,
but only one other person showed up, a young
woman named Patricia, who accompanied one
of the instructors.

Greg and Ike had been promised a
structured lesson, including plenty of physical
exercise. They were told their movements
would be videotaped for later review. That
was just a sales pitch. The whole presentation
was loose to the point of being a joke.
There were no bulls, heifers or other
animals involved. Although lethal bullfighting
is illegal throughout the United States, socalled
“bloodless” bullfights are allowed in
some places––but there was none of that here.
Greg and Ike dutifully followed
Rombold and Cooney’s directions. It must be
mentioned that neither Rombold nor Cooney
has ever been a professional cowkiller.
Rombold bragged about killing a few dozen
bulls over the past few decades, although a
professional cowkiller would easily commit
the same slaughter in as many weeks. Cooney
had just killed his first cow, a very small animal,
just a couple of weeks earlier. Perhaps
the funniest part of the day was that these two
arrogant, insecure individuals considered
themselves in a position to give instruction to
anyone about anything.
I waited and observed the charade
from approximately 400 feet away. I wanted
desperately to join it, but was afraid the cow
killers might recognize me from media reports
on rodeos and other animal cruelty issues.
The lesson began with predictable
hype about how beautiful the bulls are, and
how much their torturers admire their bravery.
The cowkillers described bullfighting as “a
passion” and “a love.” Then Cooney, in
Patricia’s presence, likened stabbing a bull to
“popping a girl’s cherry.”
The cow killers taught Greg and Ike
the meaning of a “dirty animal.” That is a
practice animal, usually a young heifer, who
has fought before. She is called “dirty”
because, having fought before, she now has
some knowledge of what is going on, and
therefore has a better chance of realizing that
the real threat to her is not the cape, but the
person behind it.
Apparently, these cowkillers only
find beauty in and have respect for ignorant,
easily killed animals. Smart ones are “dirty.”
The cowkillers admitted that the
sadists who spear the bulls from on horseback,
preceding the capework, inflict injuries which
would be fatal––eventually––if the bulls
weren’t killed by the sadists with the swords.
They admitted that the whole purpose of both
the long spear and the short harpoons which
follow is to weaken their hapless victim, who
is wounded for the first time before even entering
the arena. They confessed that facing an
animal who is not already mortally wounded
would involve more risk than they were willing
to take.
The cowkillers described the bulls as
warriors, who deserved to die a “warrior’s
death.” They explained that using a gang of
armed thugs to torture and kill an already mortally
wounded animal somehow meant they
were also warriors. This apparently elevates
the status of every thug street gang who ever
ambushed some poor soul for the purpose of a
cheap robbery, rape or thrill-killing.
Ike and Greg were taught that the
torture and slaughter of bovine victims must be
showy. They were told to stand tall, with their
feet together. They were to puff their chests
out, and suck their stomachs in.
Ike pointed out how different this is
from the stance of a boxer, wrestler, or judoka.
Competitive athletes know the importance
of keeping low, to maintain balance, stability,
and the ability to move quickly and precisely.
The bullfighting stance is by contrast not
preparation for combat, but rather a goofy
rooster mating strut, all show and no go.
About two and a half hours after the
lesson started, Greg and Ike had heard all they
could tolerate. After a short break, during
which Greg, Ike and I discussed our finale, the
“students” headed back to the cowkillers.
Greg now wore a t-shirt that read “I abuse animal
Cowkiller Rombold saw it almost
immediately, reacting with shock and surprise.
He didn’t know what to think. Was it just a
joke, or had they been taken in?

Moment of truth
Their answer was not long in coming,
as I was right on Greg’s heels.
With a video camera documenting
every word, I approached Rombold and told
him I had come 2,000 miles to invite him to a
real contest. We would happily meet the
cowkillers some place, probably Mexico,
where there could be another kind of fight.
We would take the place of their usual victims.
The cowkillers would not be allowed to use
their usual band of thugs, nor their weapons,
unless we were equipped the same way.
It would be a fair fight: one on one.
Rombold couldn’t believe it.
“I’m not a violent person,” he
squeaked repeatedly. He described himself as
“a peaceful man; a very kind and loving person.”
Yes; he actually said that. He called for
the support and comfort of his partner, Mr.
Cooney. Once joined, they became a little
cocky, until they realized that they were looking
at three very determined antis. This had a
calming effect.
In truth, these boys were scared.
Patricia, who had not yet killed an
animal, tried to explain to us the true meaning
of cowkilling. When Ike and I explained we
had close-up documentation of the torturekillings
of 28 bulls, she literally began to
shake. Ike took over, explaining his convictions
in his very quiet, calm manner. Greg
and I returned to Rombold and Cooney. We
pressed them to just say yes to our challenge.
But they clearly valued their safety far more
than their honor. They lamented that Greg and
Ike had not been truthful about their intentions.
Ike told them to remember that the next time
they hide behind their capes, fooling their
already wounded victims into enduring still
more torture.
Rombold said we could spent our
money much better. This was an interesting
comment from one who admittedly spends
plenty in traveling to Mexico, Spain and
wherever else he can commit acts which are
illegal at home. His conduct reminded me of
the killers I have often confronted at the annual
pigeon slaughter in Hegins, Pennsyvlania, to
which many participants journey from long
distances to take advantage of a rare opportunity
to inflict wanton bloodshed without undertaking
any personal risk.
When Rombold again showed his
frustration by acting out stabbing a bull in the
back of the neck, I asked him if he was sure
he wanted to be a bad-ass. He again backed
off in a hurry.
It ended, predictably, with the
cowkillers exiting the field.
We spent the rest of the day in
Tijuana. Greg and I fed stray dogs, while Ike
fed, bought from, and outright gave money to
street kids. Somehow, I just don’t envision
the cowkillers concerning themselves with
such activities when they head south.
[Steve Hindi is founder and presi –
dent of CHARC.]

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