Two weeks ago I was flying out of JFK airport in New York City and quietly lining up to pass security. A young couple was curled up in a corner and obviously finding it hard to separate from one another, as the young man was leaving back to Europe after spending the holidays with his loved one. Several security officers watched the heart-wrenching scene with humid eyes. Airports are often the scene of failed and reconciled relationships, a huddle of bad and good romances, a place to find each other and leave.

Liam Neeson recruiting a future Al-Qaeda suicide bomber in Heathrow during the holiday season

Despite JFK’s bad rep, this time it’s Newark Liberty that decided to coerce people into separating, leaving, and emotionally distressing them. A Rutdgers University student was told to back the hell off of his girlfriend while saying goodbye as his crossing a security line was a “disaster”, according to Senator Frank Lautenberg. Facing a fine of up to $500, the doctoral student may receive worse a penalty, as Lautenberg decided to act tough on love: “I’d like to see if we can bring this under federal jurisdiction, as opposed to just a misdemeanor and a $500 fine, that’s a slap on the wrist. He maybe thought he was being a Romeo, but he added to our woes, to the unease about travel. An example has to be made of this.” Whether it is customary for Newark Liberty to be the center stage of unabashed PDA, the story does not say, but after the shoe bomber on the Detroit flight, what security officers are looking for are not necessarily explosives or liquids over 200ml, but whether or not one is likely to feel their heart swell at the idea of being in an airport. Who knew potential terrorists had all watched Love Actually on repeat during their training?

Let’s outlaw romance. Let’s make it illegal to be in love; let’s frown upon any declaration, demonstration, and institution that proves, shows, illustrates, depicts love under all its shapes and sizes. Let’s make love impossible to be found in the most distraught of places; let’s teach mistrust and isolated individuality, let’s push empathy back in the darkest places of our memory, where it is unlikely to be found and thus summoned when a fellow human being is weak enough to ask for our help. Let’s not feel anything that could be considered spontaneous enough to be admired, let’s consider all those furtive little feelings as corruption, intrusion, and ultimately, destruction.

I would be stupid enough to think that after the year – hell, the decade – we have all been through, and the tough years awaiting us, love could be the only thing we could all rally around, something strong enough to keep us warm during an El-Niño winter, and carry us on through the days of record unemployement rates and shattered dreams. Last week, New Jersey – also home of Newark Liberty Airport – voted (14-20) against gay marriage, refusing tens of thousands of couples the right to institutionalize their union, to adopt their own children, to create a safe home, and to feel part of a big nation, to be recognized as a useful citizen. Most importantly, what the New Jersey Senate voted against – like Maine, New York, Florida, California, Arizona before them – is the right to simply declare your love. Simply. Publicly. The right not to die alone. The right to give your loved one a phone call while arrested or drafted. The right to protect the children together. The right to feel like a family.

If keeping America safe is to protect it from everything that made it what it is, and shield every citizen away from the only thing that can help them not lose their minds, if the war on terror is actually a war on human emotions, then the only safe thing we can say, is that we’re on the path towards more fear, more isolation, more failure, the biggest downfall of all. Fasten your seatbelts, turbulences ahead.

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