As she saw the huge crowd assembling along her road, Cilla’s confidence began to deflate for the first time. The number of people seemed to swell in a matter of seconds.
She had clearly underestimated how out of control this saga would become. Now she wondered if there was any turning back at all. She knew she faced a choice; cave in or fight harder than ever.
From her teenage years and all the way through adulthood, Cilla Carden had never backed down from her beliefs. There weren’t many that she clung to as staunchly as her vegan preferences.
Cilla was accustomed to other people disrespecting and even mocking her for them. However, things had never gotten this out of hand before.
A native of Perth, Australia, Cilla lived in the suburb of Girrawheen. As a massage therapist, she had developed acute instincts that helped her recognize the needs of the human body.
These same instincts led her to veganism. As a proud vegan, Cilla strongly believed that it was the best and healthiest diet to have. Unfortunately, she also learned that others weren’t afraid to disagree, which is where all the hostility began.
To Cilla, veganism wasn’t just a dietary preference, it was a moral philosophy and a way of life. Veganism extended beyond what vegans merely ate.
In its purest forms, it excluded any and all exploitation of non-human animals. It saddened Cilla that people were ignorant about what veganism actually stood for and it was her mission to change this; even if it meant people would hate her for it.
Cilla led something of a solitary life but preferred it that way. She valued sustainable living and even grew her own fruit.
For a while, she loved her neighborhood and her backyard was like her own little zen space. That was before her new neighbors moved in. Things had very swiftly gone downhill from there.
Cilla had always been a person that valued calm environments, tranquility, and healthy living. When her new neighbor, Toan Vu and his family, moved next door, Cilla could immediately tell that they were incompatible.
Cilla had always found Perth to be a wonderfully multicultural city and she valued people of all backgrounds. However, Toan and his family were not her cups of tea for other reasons.
Cilla wasn’t very well-liked in the community. As the only vegan there, Cilla had also developed a reputation as a “complainer”. She was often mocked as a “plant lover” and told things like “get some pork on your fork.”
Cilla wasn’t afraid to air her views about pets or when noise levels disturbed her peace. By the time Toan met Cilla, her reputation preceded her. Still, neither had any idea just how much things would escalate between them.
According to Toan and his family, they initially extended olive branches to Cilla. After trying to be friendly, they contend that she remained stubborn, complained about everything, and was always “icy.”
At first, she complained about stuff like the kids being too noisy when they played in the yard. Soon, she became more intrusive with her complaints and it wasn’t long before she pushed things too far.
Cilla had begun complaining about Toan’s family having too many barbecues in their backyard. Toan’s initial attempts to be civil were done now and he basically told Cilla to back off.
Toan thought this was the end but was stunned when he was served with a court summons the next week.
Unbelievably, Cilla was formally suing Toan and his family. Her complaints ranged from “excessive noise”, to “the unbearable smell of fish and meat”, and many others.
It seems Cilla was attempting to force her neighbors to stop eating meat in their own yard. Her initial suit was lodged with the State Administrative Tribunal but she would soon take it much further.
When Cilla’s initial suit failed, word of what she had tried to do quickly spread around the Girrawheen community. Everyone agreed that she was becoming a complete nuisance with her outrageous demands.
Not only did she appeal her lawsuit, she lodged it with the supreme court and tried to make it a constitutional matter. That was when the community had enough. Standing with Toan and his family, they hatched a plan to get revenge on Cilla.
Toan and his family had actually been quiet and stopped having backyard barbecues for a while and Cilla thought she had actually made a difference. One Saturday afternoon, she realized how wrong she was
It started with the overpowering smell of meat wafting up the road. Then the people came, with barbecues in tow. Soon there were over 400 of them. It seems the entire community was having a mass barbecue and the chosen venue was across the street from Cilla’s home.
Cilla could not believe how vicious people were being. Calling her lawyer, she was told that mass gatherings were allowed so long as permission was granted by the local council.
After checking with local police, Cilla learned that permission had indeed been applied for and granted on the grounds of the mass gathering being a community event. Outraged but helpless, things soon got worse for her.
Her court appeal was on shaky ground too. She had filed over 600 pages in the matter. Her case was deemed “excessive.” As most of it contained complaints and rants that were “irrelevant” to the legal issues at play, the court below was scathing in its dismissal of her case.
Cilla will be left with no legal recourse if her supreme court bid fails too. Unfortunately, most legal experts agree that it surely will as people cannot be sued for “just living their lives.”
Cilla’s story highlights the fact that many communities and neighborhoods in the world have diverse residents. In such a melting pot of cultures and value systems, there are bound to be disagreements.
The question that remains is how far should people be allowed to go to fight for their own beliefs? Was Cilla wrong to take her matter to court? Was the community wrong for their retaliation? What do you think?