Sometimes you just read something in the newspaper that makes you wonder about the sanity of the world. Sometimes you read something which on the face of it, is so ridiculous that it can't possibly be real.
In this case though, which actually is a legal case, we have something so daft, that if it wasn't for two newspapers, the television news, and a look at the legal registers, I wouldn't have believed it.
A Perth vegan has taken her neighbours all the way to the Supreme Court, demanding they stop smoking, bouncing balls and even cooking barbecues in their backyard.
Cilla Carden from Girrawheen, in Perth's northern suburbs, said she is fed up with the smell of meat cooking on the barbecue next door.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 3rd Sep 2019
And just to confirm that this wasn't complete hogwash:
The massage therapist has been embroiled in a battle with Toan Vu, his wife and children since late 2018.
After her claims were rejected by a tribunal earlier this year on lack of evidence, she applied to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for right of appeal. It was also turned down in July.
Lawyer John Hammond said going to the Supreme Court was an "extreme option" but it hadn't stopped Ms Carden from further appealing the case.
She told Nine News she believed her neighbours were "absolutely deliberate" in allowing their smells to cross into her yard.
And it's not just the smell of meat and fish that has made her furious, it's the smell of cigarettes and the sound of children playing with basketballs.
- Daily Telegraph, 3rd Sep 2019
That's it. If the world stops spinning tomorrow, I'm jumping off¹. I'm taking a rocket to Titan and you'll never see me again. There are so many things going on here at once, that my brain went into 'safe mode' and demands to be fed with numbers and politics.
I could conceivably see how Ms Carden might have a case against her neighbours disturbing the peace and quiet but I don't think that this is a very strong one at all. I have been both inside the courts as a court recorder and outside the courts as a para-para-para-paralegal for so long that this looks to me like a vexatious case. If I was a judge, I would laugh as I threw it out; as I suspect has already happened, twice.
There is a concept at common law which is the right to quiet enjoyment of one's surrounds. I will readily admit that there is cause for cease and desist orders if you happen to have neighbours who want to throw wild parties well into the night, every night. There are also causes for a claim if you happen to live next door to a factory of some kind, which has industrial processes which release unpleasant chemicals into the immediate vicinity. The question over whether or not someone is impinging upon your right to quiet enjoyment of your surroundings, when they are in their own backyard because they also have a right to quiet enjoyment of their surroundings, then becomes one of reasonableness in the light of competing rights interests.
Is it reasonable for someone to be barbecuing in their own backyard? Absolutely. Is it reasonable for the kids to be playing basketball in their own backyard? Absolutely.
This is why I am guessing that the Adminstrative Appeals Tribunal who first heard this case and the Supreme Court of Western Australia, both threw this case out on its ear through lack of evidence. I would even go so far as to say that if Mr Vu actually was somehow "absolutely deliberate" in allowing their smells to cross into her yard, as if that was even a thing, then this case should still be thrown out on its ear because it is stupid.
If there is an argument to be made that the Vu family has "absolutely deliberately" gone out of their way to annoy Ms Carden then maybe there is a case to answer but the idea that someone is undertaking barbecuing in a deliberately vindictive manner, just seems so nonsensical and fanciful to me, that I do not believe that it is real.
I think that there is another issue playing out here and that Ms Carden is playing this issue out by proxy - She is a racist.
The truth is that no court is going to rule that the Vu family should spontaneously leave; especially just because Ms Carden is afraid of foreigners. Not only is that unreasonable but we have things like the Racial Discrimination Act which prevent such knavery.
I am also willing to suggest that Ms Carden isn't really a long time vegan² and just happened to discover this as a convenient lifestyle option because it gave her sufficient cover to spin a story which wasn't explicitly racist. This isn't to say that I have problem with veganism because if you are willing to not eat meat because of the strength of your convictions or religion, then you are more than likely a person of moral fortitude. However, if Ms Carden has taken on this crusade so virulently that she is prepared to go to court repeatedly, then I do not think that she is a genuine vegan and is probably having a sneaky bacon cheeseburger behind the bins at Woolworths.
I hope that the court in its wisdom, sees through Ms Carden's knavery and eejitery and decides to award the case and their court costs to the Vu family. I also hope that she admits that this is all a furphy and either goes to a nunnery or a carvery.
¹If the world actually did stop spinning tomorrow, we'd probably be flung off at high speeds because of the laws of physics.
²Though she might be from the planet Vega.
One of the endearing qualities of Australia is that although there are some eejits here, there are also a lot of boofheads and larrikins who openly mock this kind of stupidity.
This was in today's Daily Telegraph:
In response, a Facebook event has been created called "Community BBQ for Cilla Carden", on which more than 2000 people have clicked attending and 6000 have indicated they are interested.
"Cilla Carden has a problem with her neighbours cooking meat on their BBQ, because she's a 'vegan'." Recently taking them to the Supreme Court, creator of the event Bailey Mason wrote.
- Daily Telegraph, 5th Sep 2019
I can't think of anything that would be a more Australian Australian response to this. If Ms Carden is just a whinger who is complaining about her neighbours being "absolutely deliberate" in allowing their smells to cross into her yard, then she now has to deal with 2000+ people who will descend upon her eejitery.
If however this is a proxy for her racism (because she can't actually take her neighbours to court just because she is a racist xenophobe) then Bailey Mason's scare quotes about her being a 'vegan', are bang to rights.
Either way, the fact that the community is rallying around the Vu family by holding a massive barbeque, is the "absolutely deliberate" perfect response. Bailey Mason, you are a dead set legend.