Why did this chicken cross the road? To go to the court, obviously. He had a case to fight, and win.
In a legal battle that started in 2017, and just concluded recently – a rooster named Maurice has won against his neighbors, as the Judge ordered them to pay up €1000 ($1103) for the loss of reputation and other court charges. The court also ruled that Maurice will be allowed to sing as he always have.
Although the long drawn court case seems to have taken a toll on him, and he has stopped singing. “He is very stressed out,” says his owner Corinne, worried about the swarm of visitors making him shy and uncomfortable.
How did this chicken land in court?
On the Atlantic coast of France, at a house in the quaint and peaceful island of Oleron – there lives a quirky little chicken named Maurice. Every morning, like clockwork, he had the habit of broadcasting his cock-a-doodle-do, or the ‘cocorico‘ as the French call it.
To some, it’s just a part of life lived in the rural side that comes with chirping birds; ringing bells; and croaking, braying animals.
To Maurice’s new neighbors, who had just retired from the city to this island, a cockerel singing was loud and unsavory.
They complained, and then filed a case
They complained to the owner, Corinne Fesseau, who did all she could to ensure that her new neighbors weren’t disturbed by a playful chicken who just liked to sing.
According to a report by AFP, she covered his coop with black sheets so that he wouldn’t see the sunrise. But he still crowed with every breaking dawn, whether he saw the morning light or not. Corinne, then, draped his coop with egg boxes to make it soundproof but his unabashed morning cry still pierced all covering and reached the irritable neighbors’ delicate ears.
The fiddling feud just got worse and Maurice ended up with a lawsuit against him! The neighbors wanted him removed, and argued that they had retired here for some quiet and peace, and the chicken was coming in the way between them and the eternal chicken-less bliss.
Maurice got a worldwide army of supporters:
Corinne decided to attend the court proceedings on behalf of Maurice, who she thought would be a disruption in the court. She also started an online petition which got more than 130,000 signatures and received worldwide support. In July session of court, the local residents even brought a “support committee” of roosters and hens.
The lawsuit sparked off a nationwide debate in France, some citing it as the battle for France’s soul as fought between the rural way of life versus the what was dubbed as urban ignorance and entitlement. Several people, mayors, politicians et al. chimed in with jibes at the retiring urbanites and defended that bird and animals just formed the natural soundscape of the island. Christophe Sueur, mayor of Saint-Pierre-D’Oléron said:
Here, we can hear songs of turtledoves, the sound of seagulls, tractors, that’s what makes the beauty of our island too. The soundscape is very important and it is part of what contributes to the charm of our landscape.
Judge penalised the neighbours €1000 !
The judge ruled the Maurice would not be removed from his residence, and he can continue to sing. The complaining couple was also ordered to pay 1,000 Euros ($1,103) in damages to Corrine, the chicken’s owner, for reputational harm, and court expenses.
The underlying issue runs deeper as many other urbanites retiring to the French countryside have filed lawsuits against mooing cows, croaking frogs, clucking ducks, ringing church bells – you name it. One of them even asked to silence the cicadas by slaughtering them.
The rural-urban divide in France has only grown in the recent years, and the victory of Maurice sets a precedent that the way of rural life is not going to be vanquished in the midst of urbanized cultural wave that has been emaciating long-held traditions and norms even if they harm no one.
Featured Image Courtesy: The Local