the attacks on America, the government meets in ornate halls to
discuss what to do, how to prepare against this imminent threat.
After days of rumination, red-faced threats and grandstanding, a
press conference is held. The American public is told that they
will be safe from threats both foreign and domestic. The government
has figured it out. Legislation is before the House to outlaw love.
After all, the government says, it’s love that’s behind
all this violence. It’s love that drives a man to pilot a
plane into skyscrapers. It’s love that compels a woman to
leave her family and crash a bus loaded with explosives into a bridge.
If we outlaw love, everyone will be safe. It won’t be easy,
but we know we can count on the American people, the government
says. This is wartime, and we all must make sacrifices to protect
The new laws change everything. Well, almost. The national anthem
is kept, because there is no mention of love in it. Americans are
urged not to love their country, but to be lukewarmly fond of it.
Hollywood takes advantage immediately of the new way. Love stories
are replaced by stories of people who meet accidentally and become
very fond of each other so they move to other cities to avoid becoming
terrorists. Horror movies are replaced by footage of genital mutilation
and open heart surgery. The theaters are packed with nervous people
who remember dark movie theaters as places for dates, people who
are afraid to look anywhere but at the screen or the floor. Television
looks different, too. Old sitcoms are edited to end where the couple
– Lucy and Desi, Archie and Edith, Marian and Howard –
fights. The remaining time is filled with a government PSA, thanking
citizens for their patriotism.
Thanks to a grandfather clause in the legislation, married couples
are allowed to stay together if they must, but their unions are
legally annulled. Pundits decide this is a huge victory for gay
No one loves thy neighbors anymore. Most people don’t even
like the people who live next door. After all, neighbors call the
police, tell them about the people in love who live next door. In
the middle of the night, the police come, dragging couples apart.
Terrorized lovers scream each other’s names as they are dragged
in opposite directions into government custody. To ward off the
neighbors, some couples stage fights, screaming at each other so
it carries through the walls, or hit pillows and yell their children’s
names. They’re afraid that the neighbors caught them smiling
at each other, saw them patting their children’s heads.
The birth rate is kept steady thanks to artificial insemination
and adoptions of babies from overseas who have been deemed quite
unlovable. Teen pregnancy is way down, but girls who find themselves
with a bun in the oven are sent to juvie hall. After all, argue
the legislators, they’re kids. We can’t expect them
to behave as adults. There is still a chance for rehabilitation.
Otherwise, life continues as usual. People grocery shop, work, do
laundry. By day, it would seem that there’s no resistance
at all. But that’s not the case. Deep in the night, on the
outskirts of town, hordes of lovers meet in thickets, cemeteries,
alleyways, clad in black ski masks. They press their lips together,
grapple, and whisper the forbidden words to each other over and
over: I love you. I love you. I love you. The trees, the dark, the
cemeteries look on and ignore the embarrassment of human sentimentality.