Trapped in your 15 minutes

THE 15-MINUTE city (or neighborhood) was influenced by cities such as Paris, in which a range of amenities tend to be within walking distance (David Mapletoft/Wikipedia)

Some people will believe anything.

I’m sorry that’s not a quote from a famous person, but it seems so self-evident that there’s no need to give it more weight by tying it to Plato or Emerson or Bill Murray.

Tales that seem over-the-top ridiculous nevertheless take hold despite defying all rational thought, which kind of explains why some folks believe it.

Alex Jones is the most notorious purveyor of dangerous nonsense with his claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged event with “crisis actor” children pretending to be dead.

But there are other beliefs that have taken hold among millions, which include:

  • The coronavirus was a “plandemic” created by dark forces to get you to take drugs which contained tiny electronics allowing tracking and/mind control of those inoculated;
  • That Barack Obama was born in Kenya, or Indonesia;
  • That the United States is a corporation in which all Americans are legally slaves.
  • That John Kennedy was killed by the FBI, Cuba, Lyndon Johnson,  the Mafia, the Defense Department, Big Oil, Russia and – just possibly – Jackie.

Now we are seeing a new level of paranoia about the idea of the “15-Minute Neighborhood.”

Originated by some well-meaning urban planners, the 15-Minute idea is to rethink zoning so that you could find most of your needs: groceries, medical and dental services, a restaurant, gas station, Starbucks  – wait, there already is a Starbucks on almost every corner – nearby, etc.

If you could do all the stuff close by, the theory goes, you could walk or ride your bike to those places and not drive a polluting car and/or make traffic a nightmare.

Sounds innocent enough, if perhaps impractical. But conspiracy theorists have hopped into the saddle and rode this idea off the ledge of sanity.

In Europe, there have been widespread protests and even violent clashes with police based on the notion that the 15-Minute Neighborhood is just another word for ghetto, or suburban concentration camp. You wouldn’t be allowed outside your Neighborhood without permission, and armed guards would patrol the perimeter checking passes. Fines and even prison could follow.

That, of course, is not anywhere near the truth, but the idea is spreading because … see first line of this article.

Jim Tortolano has been writing Retorts since he was bitten by a vampire and became immortal, proven by all the tired old jokes he tells. For more on the “15 Minute Neighborhood” or “City,” go to: https://www.codastory.com/newsletters/oxford-15-minute-city-conspiracy/ or https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-02-27/no-15-minute-cities-aren-t-a-threat-to-civil-liberties . 

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