Opinion | Freedom is not free

While protesting against wearing masks, people fail to assess the seriousness of COVID-19 and their behavior implicitly endangers others’ freedom.


Jenna Galligan

Photo Illustration by Jenna Galligan.

Yujun Cai, Opinions Columnist

As we reach the end of August, a surge of people will be moving across America. To best protect ourselves from the ongoing pandemic, enforcing people to wear masks in public is necessary. However, some people believe the policy of wearing a mask is another way of restraining their “freedom of will.” They insist that nothing should constrain them from doing anything, because that’s their freedom. What they do not understand is how that freedom inhibits the freedoms of others.

Living in downtown Iowa City I still can discover people who won’t wear a mask or frequently take off their mask haphazardly. Many “anti-maskers” state that one’s careless choice is an expression of their freedoms and something to not be infringed upon.

Therefore, the definition of “freedom,” which has been the foundation of America since this nation has been established, is necessary.

While looking through the statements of people refusing wearing masks, we can discover a fixed pattern of syllogism.

People refusing to wear masks believe that they possess freedom of will which is defined as “they can do whatever they want, so long as it does infringe upon the law.” The government requests them to wear masks, but they themselves do not have to acquiesce.

Since these new requests are mandatory, it produces an illusion that they lose control of their body. Which in other words, that request takes away their freedom.

Their reluctance and resistance to wearing masks is understandable. People want to protect their own freedoms — they have never been asked to wear masks — so when the government gives a mandatory request to wear masks, people will react resistantly toward it.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 period, official authorities declared that the danger of the virus is not severe, and even the president announced that protection should be unnecessary.

Gradually, while official authorities insisted on an original stand, professionals in the medical field started to warn about the severity of it. The inconsistency between authorities puzzled the public, which led the current unbalanced attitudes toward wearing masks or not.

Currently, the number of people getting infected have reached 6,000,000 and is still exponentially increasing. With the failure of realizing the danger of the virus in the beginning and the sudden attitude shift from authorities, people need time to get used to that.

Therefore, with respect toward personal freedom, I encourage everyone to wear masks. Yes, obviously no one wants to wear a mask, and you have the freedom to get infected if you really want to by having close contact with others or refusing wearing masks.

However, as a member of a community, everyone’s life is intertwined with yours.

By being infected and acting recklessly, anti-maskers prolong the pandemic. An exercise of freedom on their part restricts the freedoms of others — and we already have laws that restrict the freedom to do that.

We are unable to relieve ourselves in public, despite the fact there may be no nearby restrooms to go to. We are forced to wear clothes in public, despite the fact that it can be incredibly hot. We have speeding laws, despite the fact that some of us are late to work.

These are necessary restrictions to maintain the health and safety of others. A mask mandate isn’t the government taking away your freedom — it’s protecting the freedom of others to live safely without worry of a life-threatening virus.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.