In response to the argument used by bullfighting lobbyists that an abolition of bullfighting would be an attack on individual liberties, Coetzee and Cohn categorically state that “neither in respect of morality nor in the eyes of the law does individual liberty mean that we are individually free to treat other living beings – whether human or non-human – as we please.”
The letter closes with an appeal to respect the various forms of animal life, since “Staged fights to the death between human beings and captive animals, which the crowds at the Roman Coliseum found so enthralling, have come to take on a morally squalid air in our day. Bulls, horses, lions, tigers: none of these great, powerful beasts show any interest in contests with human beings. In a better world we would respect their indifference and leave them to lead their own lives.”
John M. Coetzee, born in South Africa and now living in Australia, won the Booker Prize in 1983 and 1999, and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature. Through his writing, he has consistently sought to condemn racism and human rights violations.
Priscilla Cohn, widow of the Catalan philosopher José Ferrater Mora, is the Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University (United States). She is also the Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
The stance of these prominent international intellectuals shows, once again, that the international community rejects bullfighting and is keeping track of the proceedings. John Coetzee is the second Nobel laureate to take a public stand in favor of abolishing bullfights in Catalonia – the first being the Dalai Lama who made his position clear two months ago.