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Black, Gay College Wrestler Becomes the Face of HIV Criminalization

Randy Potts

July 8th, 2014
"Tiger Mandingo" on Instagram

“Tiger Mandingo” on Instagram

Steven Thrasher in Buzzfeed reports on a young HIV-positive college student in Missouri, Michael Johnson, who went by the name “Tiger Mandingo” and was arrested last October for

“recklessly infecting another with HIV” and four counts of “attempting to recklessly infect another with HIV,” felonies in the state of Missouri.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and his case won’t be in court until March of 2015. HIV criminalization is at the center of a politically-charged debate; recently, the AMA adopted a resolution “supporting the modernization of HIV related criminal laws.” Thrasher reports that

Johnson has been incarcerated during a hopeful time for people who believe that, as Medical Director of Corrections Medicine for St. Louis County Department of Health Dr. Fred Rottnek wrote to BuzzFeed, “HIV criminalization does not produce positive health outcomes for individuals or populations.” In May, Iowa modified its laws that criminalize transmitting HIV. This June, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association adopted a resolution against such laws. Also in June, the Iowa Supreme Court threw out the conviction and lifetime sex-offender status of Nick Rhoades, the subject of a 2013 ProPublica investigation co-published with BuzzFeed.

But Johnson is unlikely to benefit from any of this. He won’t be the poster child for repealing HIV laws. No national groups have taken up his cause. Akil Patterson, the sports advocate, is politically connected in African-American, LGBT, and sports circles. But he said he “can’t get anyone to touch this case with a fucking 10-foot pole.”

And, unlike Rhoades, Johnson is not being charged with having had sex with a condom, nor does he have the benefit (as the judge sentencing Rhoades put it) to not “look like our usual criminals.”

Read the full article, “How College Wrestling Star “Tiger Mandingo” Became An HIV Scapegoat,” here.

Comments

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Jack
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

To paraphrase the outraged tale of woe of Mr Johnson’s “victim”:

“I wanted him raw cuz he was HUGE. Only my third black guy. I let all my friends, ex-boyfriends and plenty of strangers F me bareback. No worries cuz I can tell somebody is negative just by looking at them.”

It’s really hard to feel sorry for anybody in this story.

Eric Payne
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Damn.

I’d like to say “only in Missouri” but, then… isn’t Missouri the “Show Me” state?

Both the unnamed “student” and Mr. Mandingo are adults. That “student” has been so cavalier in his attitude towards his own health — is there anyone over the age of 12 who doesn’t know fucking without protection can have consequences, all foreseen, from unwanted pregnancy to the transmission of general diseases and HIV — is telling. “Student” sounds like the type of person conservatives would have labelled “bug chaser” a decade ago.

So because Mr. Mandingo, obviously, resembles the white persons’ vision of “black street thug,” he’s going to be unable to get a fair trial? Was the Civil Rights Act really signed 50 years ago, or did I just imagine that?

Eric Payne
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Oops… “Only I’m Missouri” should read “Only IN Missouri”.

Joe Beckmann
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

What’s upsetting about this is that more and more states and municipalities are aware of both pre-exposure and post exposure prophylaxes (PrEP and PEP) and it would seem neither of the partners in 2013 appear to know anything about sex beyond sticking one thing in another. And what’s even more upsetting is that you seem just as blind as they do!

And PrEP and PEP are over ten years old, which means that, for a decade, unnecessary risk has fostered the epidemic. Why are you ignorant? Look it up on google!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eric Payne
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Joe,

Why am I “ignorant”? Because I’ve been in a strictly monogamous relationship for 19 years now, and, frankly, don’t have to be current about the rules of playing around anymore.

But, gee, thanks for the insult — Hey! Timothy! Isn’t the gratuitous slap here (“you seem just as blind as they do… why are you so ignorant?) a violation of the commenting rules?

Merv
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

If he knowingly lied about his status and infected someone, that’s inexcusable. He deserves to go to prison.

If he sincerely thought he was negative and had sex with someone stupid enough to want to bareback, then that’s just tough luck.

bjohnm
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Uh, Eric, I read Joe’s comment pretty closely, and I didn’t see your name in there anywhere. I think Joe might be making a broader comment about people you have a “busy” sex life with multiple partners, and are out there taking known chances. They should, reasonably, take a more active role in understanding the risks and treatments.

AlexH
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Oh my! “No worries cuz I can tell somebody is negative just by looking at them.” This is mind boggling.

Please, people, be responsible for YOURSELVES. If you have unprotected sex, that’s your choice, but don’t be surprised when you get an STD like the student in this story. And he’s in college, which is sadder still.

Eric Payne
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Merv,

Interesting viewpoint… so when do we criminalize other potentially health-risking acts? And can we make the criminalization retroactive? Just think of the number of tobacco industry workers, from the highest level to the lowliest line worker, we could lock up. After all, they not only willingly risked people’s lives… they made quite the profit doing it.

Bhattacharya
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

This kid is right about dangers of homosexuality in that it causes AIDS. Homosexual & lesbian behavior is useless, dangerous and does not result in reproduction. & transexuals are the mutilated homosexuals and lesbians-they must make it a crime to do sex changes. The rest of what I have to say here is copy/paste which I have said many times on other forums.

I also support abolishing vasectomies, tubal ligations and breast implants, I support birth control but am against sterilization surgeries. I oppose breast implants because they are fake (excludes reconstruct surgeries for women who have had breast disease). If a woman has naturally nice big boobs as singer Katy E. Perry has (she is listed as DD but there are women with bigger boobs than her), then that is good. There is nothing wrong with a woman having small boobs. Most men want a woman with natural boobs-small, medium or big vs. a woman with fake boobs.

I would limit Viagra in most cases because those are performance enhancers. If a man is let’s say 25 years old and in a wheelchair, then I support him using Viagra to have sex with his wife or girlfriend and have kids with her because there’s a use to it. But I am against Viagra or any other sexual enhancement drug for old men because that’s like giving steroids to nfl player after he has passed his prime. I would also be against giving Viagra and sexual enhancement drugs to homosexuals. So I would limit Viagra or other sexual enhancement drug to straight men who are under 40 years old with a handicap to that they can father children which below a certain age it’s medicine, but after a certain age it’s performance enhancers comparable to Steroids as Viagra, Zestra are. I support fertility treatments and I support In Vitro Fertilization.

Bhattacharya
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

I know that what I say offends the homosexuals but I will say what I believe though the homosexuals (transexuals are mutilated gays/lesbians) hate it. You homosexual men sure talk big behind a computer screen threatening this teenage boy who had courage to say what he thinks.

Well, straight men must defend themselves against homosexuals and we can fight you gays. With gay bashing cases, I have found that gays often harass & or commit assault/battery on teenage boys to men in early 20s & the men react by bashing the gay. Most men and boys who are victims of gays usu. won’t call cops to report that a gay is committing indecent exposure, harassment or in worst cases molestation until some1 reacts violently and bashes the gay.

If a defense lawyer in a gay bashing case wants to raise a crime the gay did such as harassment, indecent exposure, etc. before man reacted violently, then that must be regarded in deciding verdict. A jury can acquit or if they convict, they can convict a person on lesser charge.Again, if defense lawyer wants to bring up criminal conduct the homosexual did-harassment, indecent exposure, assault and battery, etc. before man reacted violently, then homosexual’s antisocial conduct must be regarded by jury in deciding verdict. Jury decides if it’s justified or excess force. Jury decides if it’s justified or excess force.

A rebuttal people make is that gay bashers will sometimes say things to justify their deeds such as saying the homosexual committed indecent exposure, harassment, stalking and so on and that it’s the gay basher’s side of story which may or may not be true. Yes-but just as gay basher’s have interest to justify their deeds, gay bashing victims have interest to make themselves look like innocent victims. We don’t always know the other side of story and that is usually different from what homosexual says happened. Again if it’s true homosexual committed indecent exposure, harassment, stalking, etc. before men reacted violently, then the fact the homosexual committed a crime before he was bashed must be decided by jury in deciding if gay basher(s) used reasonable or excess force.

I would rather have a case where a jury decides if a man’s reaction to bashing or killing a homosexual is justified or excess vs. the man doesn’t do enough and the gay does something worse. Most gay bashings I have found are men reacting to crimes which the homosexual first did such as after a homosexual committed indecent exposure, assault & battery or other crime.

Ben in Oakland
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Honey, you sound like an ignorant fascist, as someone who has been attacked twice on the street for the crime of walking down it, I can assure you that your head is so far up your ass that you can see stars.

Bhattacharya
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Ben in Oakland, I have had courage to ask boxer Mike Tyson (full name Michael Gerard Tyson) about the bite fight to his face-did so on Jan. 5, 1999, so I have courage.

But that aside Ben, straight men must defend themselves against homosexuals and we can fight you gays. Heros for homosexuals are cowards such as homosexual coward Harvey B. Milk.

esurience
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Bhattacharya,

Most heterosexual behavior does not result in reproduction either. And as you spelled out for us (apropos of nothing), you’re okay with that. Are you completely oblivious that you’re holding homosexual behavior and heterosexual behavior to a different standard for no reason, or do you just not care?

Bhattacharya
July 8th, 2014 | LINK

Esurience, since you’re being nice and asking me w/o being mean (well @least so far you are not), yes I’m Okay with that to answer your question. I support fertility treatments and I support In Vitro Fertilization. You need straight sex to create population. If homosexuality were to disappear then I would not lose sleep over that. Yes, I am holding homosexual behavior to a different standard. Also esurience, my reasons are unrelated to religion because I’m secualr.

I am not a Christian but there are topics where I agree with Christian groups. I agree with Christians on the dangers of gay/lesbian agenda and there are many non-Christians and even some atheists who agree with Evangelical Christians. With homosexuality, if 2 knowing and willing adults want to do gay/lesbian conduct but not tell others what to think, then it’s their life. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking is and needs to be marginalized like smoking is. They must abolish sex change maimings. link between childhood sex abuse and adult homosexuality/lesbianism is old science and nothing new. It doesn’t take an expert to know that sex abuse in youth can mess up the mind and cause people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t.

With ‘homophobic’, homophobia is telling truths which offend homosexual groups. Mainstream psychology/medicine is not to be trusted on gay/lesbian topic and too many people accept what is said w/o challenging or having doubts. Truth with homosexuality is any ideas, speculations and truths which offend homosexual groups is condemned as homophobia as there’s alot of ideology on this. With repair therapy for homosexuals/lesbians. Repair therapy for gays and lesbians who want to be straight must be available just as repair therapy must be available for a drug junky who wants to become clean. Yes, proof burden is on repair therapists, but if you aren’t going to have repair therapy for homsexuality/lesbianism, then you may as well not have repair therapy for drug junkyism or drunkardism, because it often fails.

Minz
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Bhattacharya, I’m sorry to say that your views are based on incorrect information and poor logic. Let me help with a few:

Your statement that “Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking” is, as far as I can tell, based on “research” from Paul Cameron. Paul Cameron is a bigot pursuing an agenda, and his “research” has so many holes in both design and interpretation that I couldn’t possibly list them here. He is highly disreputable, except among particular groups pushing an agenda which, bizarrely, claims that who you fall in love with is a measure of your moral worth. As far as I can tell, there’s no reputable study linking sexuality with reduced lifespan, although I did find one linking homophobia with reduced lifespan, so that may be something to work on if you’ve already given up the smokes.

“Repair therapy for gays and lesbians…” has not been proven to work, and has been shown to do great damage to people, which is a good reason for it to be banned. On the other hand, a number of addiction therapies and interventions have been shown to be successful in assisting people to quit their addiction. Comparing the pair is simply false.

“You need straight sex to create population” is nonsensical directly after discussing IVF, which clearly shows that straight sex is not required for procreation (unless your definition of “straight sex” includes petri dishes and laboratories without any human-human contact). Further, a world population of 7 billion and climbing strongly suggests that procreation is not a major issue for our species. I’d suggest not worrying about it.

“link between childhood sex abuse and adult homosexuality/lesbianism is old science”. I presume you mean “bad science”? Correlation (if it exists in this case) and causation are two different things – for example, ice cream sales correlate with murder rates, but that doesn’t mean eating ice cream makes people murderous! Further, studying homosexuality is very, very difficult to do accurately because people tend to deny it due to societal stigma. Anything claiming a causal link between abuse and homosexuality needs to be very carefully read to ensure that it has a robust study design and analysis.

Oh, and FYI, homosexuality = being attracted to people of the same sex (lesbianism is a form of homosexuality, not a different thing).

Anyway, hoping that’s some food for thought, and further research – I strongly suggest looking into the subject a little more deeply before posting again.

JCF
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Troll Clean-Up Requested.

Merv
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Eric,

In my opinion, deliberately misleading someone into a dangerous or deadly activity is a clear cut case of something that should result in criminal sanctions. Should that apply to tobacco executives who deliberately misled their customers about the safety of their product, resulting in countless deaths? Yes. Should it apply to an auto manufacturer or mechanic who knowingly misrepresents that the car’s brakes are in good working order, causing the owner to be injured in a crash? Yes. Should it apply to a nursing home employee who knowingly shows up for work with virulent influenza after telling his employer that he is healthy, resulting in several deaths? Yes.

FYoung
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Bhattacharya, I see you are opposed to gay and lesbian sex, sex reassignment, vasectomies, breast augmentation, Viagra for gay or older men, and sterilization.

Fine. So, don’t do them.

As for what other people do that harms no one else, mind your own business.

“Again if it’s true homosexual committed indecent exposure, harassment, stalking, etc. before men reacted violently, then the fact the homosexual committed a crime before he was bashed must be decided by jury in deciding if gay basher(s) used reasonable or excess force.”

Force is never reasonable in reaction to indecent exposure, harassment or stalking or other non-violent crimes. It is only reasonable when defending against an assault. Otherwise, it is itself a crime.

Some people seem to think that being openly gay is provocation. Legally it doesn’t qualify. If you witness a non-violent crime, report it to the police. If you attack the person, that is a crime.

“…link between childhood sex abuse and adult homosexuality/lesbianism is old science and nothing new.”

Your ignorance is so staggering I must assume it is deliberate.

ZRAinSWVA
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Eric wrote, “In my opinion, deliberately misleading someone into a dangerous or deadly activity is a clear cut case of something that should result in criminal sanctions.”

I don’t personally think it’s that clear-cut. If someone seeks to have unprotected sex with another person and neither party queries on disease status, is the person who is HIV positive due criminal sanctions because he or she didn’t disclose? I don’t think so. There is something called personal responsibility. You don’t just ask, you protect, period, unless you’re in a monogamous relationship.

Martin Ridley
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

These laws are simply there to treat all positive people as criminals and fits neatly with the stereotypical views that people who wish to stigmatise and criminalise people with HIV have. No good comes of criminalising this man, only education and the availability of antivirals prevents the spread of HIV. The fact he is Black simply compounds the prejudice he will face. Others having not taken responsibility for themselves seek a scapegoat and he fits the Bill neatly. Free him now and withdraw the case.

Ben
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Keep in mind many of the nations with the lowest transmission rate of HIV have no criminalization of any kind around sex with positive individuals. If one really wants to combat transmission, one should support:

universal healthcare with free medication for all positive individuals regardless of nationality or any other status,

a first world education system that includes sex-ed that covers not just the mechanics but also consent, same-sex sex, free condoms, and pleasure,

completely equal rights that do not stigmatize gays/lesbians/trans as second class citizens which heavily correlates with drug use, unprotected sex, and higher number of sex partners.

Instead, the US focuses purely on punitive measures, much like abortion, drugs, crime, and any other numerous systems that have proven routes of efficacy, but don’t jive with the folksy, just-world, view that conservative, religious, white-voters think meshes with reality.

NancyP
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

The article portrays the black wrestler as rather naive and severely affected by a learning disorder. It is entirely possible that he could have been told about his positive status and that he didn’t understand the full implications, ie, that one can be perfectly healthy and still transmit disease.

Missouri was a slave state, and has retained some rather virulent racism. All other prosecutions under this law in the St. Louis extended metro area (including St. Charles, the site of the incident), with the exception of that of the psycho lab technician who injected patients with his own HIV-positive blood, have been of poor black people, predominantly prostitutes.

Randy Potts
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

@NancyP, I forgot that Missouri was also a slave state. Do you have a reference for the other prosecutions being black and/or involving prostitution?

Merv
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

ZRAinSWVA,

There are at least two degrees of dishonesty. In the first, someone can claim to be HIV- when he knows for a fact that he is HIV+. In the second, someone can decline to volunteer his HIV+ status when he is not asked. Reasonable people can disagree about the second case.

The first case is so far over the line of acceptable behavior that there should be no question that it should warrant criminal charges if it results in infection. The claim that voluntarily engaging in unprotected sex gives someone a free pass to knowingly infect you is absurd. Unprotected sex is only dangerous if one of the partners is infected. You said yourself “You don’t just ask, you protect.” Well, asking is protecting. If you know your partner has not had sex (etc.) for a year, and tested negative multiple times within the last six months, then you can be almost 100% certain that he is negative. That’s better protection than a condom provides.

Of course, people lie, so it’s a good idea to use a condom anyway, but that doesn’t mean the lying should get a free pass. Your partner could also lie about using a condom, or take it off when you’re not looking. Should he get a pass on that, too? He could lie that he put loads of peanuts in the dish he cooked when he knows you have a deadly allergy. Free pass? Is there no limit to lies resulting in injury that should be overlooked by the criminal justice system.

Bhattacharya
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

FYoung, as with ANY assault and battery or murder cases including gay bashing cases, unless there is a pleabargain (which happens in most criminal cases) juries decide after hearing both prosecutor and defense lawyer. Juries decide what is reasonable & excess because each case is different and must be judged individually. Also these situations are unpredictable. If you’re a store owner there is no need to put up signs that say ‘don’t steal’ because stealing is a crime and no need to say no to a crime. If some1 is stealing from your store, the right thing to do is use reasonable (not excess) force to stop the the thief and have the police arrest the thief. If you do nothing, then worse can happen as these situations can be unpredictable. It is possible for a thief to be stealing anything small such as shoplifting candy to expensive things such as diamonds and then beat up or kill the shop keeper in the same crime. Many cases where thieves have beaten up or killed shop keepers after stealing. No, stealing alone does not justify deadly force but theft may not be the only crime intended and it is possible for thieves to beat up or kill their victims. If the thief is high on drugs then it is possible for the thief to be stealing things and then in a drug rage attack or even kill the store owner including with his own hands.

But FYoung, a gay bashing case I know of from Arizona. What happened was that an 18 year old boy had been in a park with friends. A gay who was much bigger than him grabbed the boy’s butt & made a sex comment. The boy then told his 2 friends, the 2 men grabbed the gay, brought him to the boy who then hit the gay several times in the face. That ‘gay bashing’ victim committed a crime-assault&battery & boy reacted by bashing him. If that teenage boy had tried to walk away, that gay would likely have attacked him because the gay had a secret violent history (unreported to cops) of beating up teenage boys after harassing them for sex & these cases unpredictable.

With that gay, it’s highly likely the gay was trying to do something more violent, so that gay deserves no sympathy for getting hit in the face. This gay again had beaten up other teenage boys after committing assault & battery, was likely trying to do it to this teenage boy, but because teenage boy had 2 friends (1 a martial arts expert) who were with him, they were able to defend this boy. Self-defense is a jury topic after hearing both prosecutor & defense lawyer & jury decides if gay basher used reasonable or excessive force. If it’s reasonable, then you acquit and if it’s excessive, then what degree.

If a defense lawyer in a gay bashing case wants to raise a crime the gay did such as harassment, indecent exposure, etc. before man reacted violently, then that must be regarded in deciding verdict. Jury decides if it’s justified or excess force. A jury can acquit or if they convict, they can convict a person on lesser charge.

If it is true the homosexual was doing antisocial conduct before he was bashed, then yes, a jury must decide if it was justified or excess force to end the abuse.It is wrong to think that if you do nothing and walk away, the homosexual will end there-When homosexuals commit sex abuse, the first thing they do is commit indecent exposure, stalking assault and battery before doing something worse. I would rather have a case where a jury decides if a man’s reaction to bashing or killing a homosexual is justified or excess vs. the man doesn’t do enough and the gay does something worse.

Chris McCoy
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Please don’t feed the troll.

Nelson M. Andela
July 9th, 2014 | LINK

Butt… Batm.. Battacharya or whatever, interesting that youre here, trying to GAYBASH with stupid remarks… Are you really that ignorant?

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