“I say real men wear face masks,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asserted during an MSNBC interview on Thursday. Garcetti was responding to show host Andrea Mitchell’s question about his thoughts on President Trump’s decision not to wear a mask during public appearances. Now, besides the fact that this just sounds entirely immature by defining a “real man” as someone who wears a mask, it is also basically a form of intimidation targeted at everyday Americans.

Let me explain.

It’s worth questioning Garcetti’s motive here. Is he simply taking an easy shot at Trump to score some cheap points? Or is he trying to push this idea that face masks are required because he thinks so? Remember, in Los Angeles face masks are required to be worn by all citizens, and the consequences of not wearing one are legally enforceable.

Face masks have been touted as an essential part of the national solution to reopening America following the COVID-19 pandemic, but lately, this policy has been coming under scrutiny from the public eye.

Every day, there’s some new story about someone who was kicked out of a store or denied entry to a business for not wearing a mask. In some cases, individuals have even been SHOT for it when the situations escalate and law enforcement gets involved.

Regardless of the CDCs and Coronavirus Task Force’s flip-flop on whether wearing face masks is even effective, putting a physical barrier over your nose and mouth is going to be at least somewhat effective in preventing virus transmission. It doesn’t take a medical expert to come to that conclusion.

A better question might be to ask is whether they are effective enough to warrant forcing the American public to wear them. Is it even Constitutionally legal for city and state governments to mandate that people wear face masks?

Some Americans don’t think so. One Costco shopper posted a video that went viral on Monday, showing an employee taking his cart away because of his refusal to wear a mask. The shopper argued, “This isn’t about a mask, it’s about control.”

While there’s nothing wrong with simply wearing a mask voluntarily for whatever reason you want, there is something devastatingly wrong governments forcing you to wear it against your will. By mandating face masks, we set a risky precedent, showing that people can be coerced by the government to do nearly anything under the premise of public safety. This precedent implies an ugly connotation of submission by a “free” people. If we can be masked or muzzled into silence, we’ve basically just traded our freedom for safety.

What’s scary about that is that there is no compromise that results in preserving freedom.

Plus, if we didn’t need to completely shut down the United States and force everyone to wear face masks during the Hong Kong Flu (H3N2) of 1968-1969, why do we need to now? That was also a global pandemic that killed 100,000 Americans and roughly 1 million worldwide, according to the CDC.

America did not shut down for that. Woodstock was held that year, and life continued as normal. The bottom line here is that pandemics are not new. We’ve been down this road before.

As soon as we allow even the slightest infringements on our freedom, we condition people, especially younger generations, to thinking that these violations are justified and necessary at times. This is a dangerous idea to impose in America because it threatens the foundation of our country. Our Founding Fathers created the Constitution to preserve liberty under every circumstance.

To think it is acceptable to sidestep it just because we’re in a pandemic is a gross misinterpretation.