Au­to­mo­biles ver­sus moose


The two were fac­ing each other de­fi­antly, their body lan­guage shout­ing the ill will that di­vided them. What they re­ally wanted to be do­ing was scream­ing at each other, us­ing all the vo­cab­u­lary and deci­bels they could muster. How­ever that sort of thing was strictly for­bid­den by the rules that dic­tated be­hav­iour in this place, so for the moment, all they could do was stare at one an­other in silent rage.

They made quite a pic­ture the two of them. If this con­fronta­tion had been tak­ing place in the colo­nial pe­riod, or back in the Mother Coun­try, they would each have been sport­ing those pure-white pow­dered wigs that cre­ate such a dra­matic aura of author­ity around the head. The wigs con­trast so won­der­fully well with the long, flow­ing, black robes punc­tu­ated by those two sweet lit­tle white tabs down the front pro­vid­ing just the ac­cent to pull the en­sem­ble to­gether.

But this isn’t the Mother Coun­try and ar­guably this is no longer a colony, so no wigs were be­ing worn. Still, what was sit­ting atop the shoul­ders and pro­trud­ing from the neck open­ing of the flow­ing black robes worn by each of our pro­tag­o­nists was ev­ery bit as dra­matic as a wig.

Out of the robe on the left poked a shiny well-pol­ished grille, bor­dered by four bril­liantly il­lu­mi­nated head­lights, two ei­ther side. The char­ac­ter on the right had a long neck sup­port­ing a longer face on a mas­sive head. Small hooded eyes, big ears, and a wide mouth, with a goa­tee beard quiv­er­ing be­low it, all of this topped off by a mag­nif­i­cent set of antlers, with points too nu­mer­ous to count.

Yes, ladies and gentle­men, the long awaited bat­tle of two giants of ju­rispru­dence was about to be­gin: the Au­to­mo­bile ver­sus the Moose.

Tel e v i sion crews from a dozen coun­tries were set up out­side court. Trans­port trucks and mo­bile stu­dios over­flowed the park­ing lot and were parked along both sides of the road, stretch­ing as far as the eye could see in ei­ther di­rec­tion. A tem­po­rary land­ing pad had been set up in the school park­ing lot op­po­site the court house and he­li­copters were tak­ing off and set­ting down ev­ery few min­utes, some hov­er­ing over­head to film the large and grow­ing crowds.

Among the crowd there was a for­est of home­made plac­ards, a sam­pling of which read: “ Save the Moose,” “An­i­mals be­fore Cars,” “ Stop Hunt­ing Now,” “Pro­tect our En­dan­gered Cars,” “Cull Moose Now!” and “Hi Mom!”

In the courthouse lobby TV re­porters were ad­just­ing their hair and makeup in the re­flec­tion of the glass doors while they waited for the court cham­ber to open and the pro­ceed­ings to get un­der­way.

An an­nounce­ment crack­led out over the pub­lic ad­dress sys­tem: “ Ladies and Gentle­men, please ex­cuse the de­lay while we wait for the trans­la­tors to set up their equip­ment. They have just ar­rived by heli­copter af­ter a de­lay for a Wreck­house wind warn­ing and rain, driz­zle and fog over the Avalon Penin­sula. As you know we had to scour the world to find a team of trans­la­tors who were flu­ent in both Moose and Toy­ota. Now they are here and we will shortly be able to open the doors. Thank you for your pa­tience.”

The late af­ter­noon sun il­lu­mi­nated the ea­ger face of Char­lene Pink, re­porter for CBNL-TV, as she breath­lessly spoke to the cam­era. Ha­bit­ual view­ers likely noted that Char­lene’s hair was a dif­fer­ent colour than yes­ter­day, pos­si­bly for this his­tory-mak­ing trial. Ges­tur­ing over her shoul­der she gasped, “In­side this court­room to­day, his­tory was made. Speak­ing for the moose, coun­sel made the case that it was the god-given abo­rig­i­nal right for moose to roam freely any­where on the Trans-Canada High­way at all hours of the day and night.

“ Coun­sel for the au­to­mo­bile re­futed the moose claim, stat­ing that the abo­rig­i­nal rights for moose ap­plied only to Labrador where moose are in­dige­nous, that this case was about moose on the is­land. At this point au­to­mo­bile coun­sel’s voice rose an oc­tave, it’s head­lights bright­ened and a hint of Fer­rari slipped into the broad Toy­ota ac­cent.”

“ You’re an im­mi­grant! You’re a C.F.A. Mr. Moose!”

There was an au­di­ble gasp in the court­room.

“Maybe so, but I’ve been here longer than you have auto-boy!”

“ Wrong again Mooseeee! You only got here in 1904. The first car in New­found­land was the Rolls Royce be­long­ing to Mr. Robert Gille­spie Reid of the Reid New­found­land Rail­way. He brought his car here in 1903. We cars have more right than you to go wher­ever we want. I rest my case.”

“ The judge, brow wrin­kled, ad­journed for the day. For CBNL TV this is Char­lene Pink.”

The case con­tin­ues...

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