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Trayvon Martin Murder Case
Aired April 2, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: On the show tonight:
Who was screaming on the 911 tape? Shooter, George Zimmerman, or unarmed victim, Trayvon Martin? One expert thinks he knows the answer.
And, filmmaker Tyler Perry shares his scary night being profiled by police. It happens more than you think. One of our own producers is here with his story.
Plus, questions remain, but have we, the media, already convicted George Zimmerman?
So here`s what I want to explore tonight. Does the Trayvon Martin case warrant further conversation? Is this a mystery that you guys want us to unfold? Does justice need to be served?
Or, or/and, perhaps, I think something more important is going on here. I find it rather fascinating that the interaction between Toure, the MSNBC contributor, and Piers Morgan on Friday night for me brought some of this to light a little bit. And that is the American, the American psyche, the American story, has been stirred by this tragedy, and that we as Americans uniquely have a sense of what this means to us. It`s our history that is being resurrected here, that`s being worked out, and it`s very hard for non-Americans to understand how deep, how deeply this stirs us.
And well it should. It`s still the working out of our past. It`s still that working out. And I say it`s a conversation worth having. Whether or not there`s a mystery here or not, this is a conversation that will elevate our consciousness, so let`s get to this.
PINSKY: A rainy night in February, a Florida woman called 911 to report someone crying out for help. That call would capture the final moment of Trayvon Martin`s life. The African-American teen was shot and killed by neighborhood volunteer watch captain George Zimmerman.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: It sounds like a male.
DISPATCHER: And you don`t know why?
CALLER: I don`t know why. I think they`re yelling help, but I don`t know. Just send someone quick, please.
DISPATCHER: OK. Does he look hurt to you?
CALLER: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help!
DISPATCHER: So you think he`s yelling help?
DISPATCHER: All right. What is your --
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: Tonight, a leading expert in the field of forensic voice identification tells CNN, quote, "With reasonable scientific certainty," closed quote, the person crying for help is not George Zimmerman. The results of that analysis cannot be considered, of course, 100 percent accurate and directly contrast with the Sanford police report which says that George Zimmerman stated he was the person screaming for help.
Joining me to discuss this further, Daryl Parks, he`s attorney for the Martin family. Debra Wilson, actress and comedienne, joins us again. And criminal defense attorney Trent Copeland.
Trent, voice forensics, not 100 percent accurate, but damaging to Zimmerman`s story nonetheless.
TRENT COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, because, you know, look, it suggests that he might not be telling the truth. And if he`s not telling the truth in one area, he`s not telling the truth throughout the story.
Look, there`s a jury instruction -- classic jury instruction that says to a jury if you find that someone is being misleading, deceptive, dishonest, not telling the truth in one area of their testimony or statement, then you can discredit and disbelieve everything. I think not only are we seeing perhaps this timeline of George Zimmerman claiming that he`d been arrested -- claiming he`d been assaulted, George Zimmerman claiming that he`d had his head beaten in and George Zimmerman now claiming that it was his voice crying out for help may not be consistent with story. If that`s the case, then I think we might be in a position where we can begin the process of discrediting everything he`s saying and breaking that all down.
PINSKY: So, we can discredit one thing, it potentially discredits the entire story?
COPELAND: We can discredit one thing, it potentially discredits entire story.
PINSKY: Daryl Parks, you`re an attorney for the Martin family. Is the Martin family aware of all this wrangling that`s going on?
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes, they are. And part of it, obviously, they have, again, this crusade on behalf of Trayvon to get the word out there so that they can bring George Zimmerman to justice.
But it`s tough on them because they are good everyday people who have been thrust into a position they didn`t ask for. And just imagine to any of us what that would be like to be in this situation.
PINSKY: Well, Daryl, how do they feel about that? What do they tell you?
PARKS: Well, they, you know what, I think -- we`ve taken a journey with them all the way to Washington. You saw that Thursday we had the big rally in Sanford and from there, we took a little bit of a break then we went on to D.C. the first part of the week where they testified before the Congress. They have done interviews where necessary. They have met with law enforcement where necessary. They have attended rallies. They have spoken out.
Through it all, their family has been there with them. On yesterday, we had the rally here in Miami. They also have done their part to give to law enforcement their version of what happened and where they believe things may be that might assist law enforcement in getting to bottom of these issues.
So they are very involved in trying to make sure that the truth comes out regarding the death of their son.
PINSKY: Debra, I want to ask you, is justice the end game here? Or is this --
DEBRA WILSON, ACTRESS: Justice is not the end game but it is a part of the echelon. If we stick with just the race, then we`re going to polarize the nation, those who believe, those who don`t, those who want to believe and those who don`t want to believe based on race. And I think the next echelon above that is just looking at injustice in general and the echelon after that is where do we all take responsibility in all of this?
PINSKY: If Zimmerman comes to justice, is that going to calm this thing or is that a piece of the story?
WILSON: I think it`s a piece of the puzzle. I think it will calm to a certain -- I think when any time we want justice and we look outside of ourselves, we`re definitely going to be calmer about it. But right now, we have to really focus on the fact that if this is only about racism, then it`s going to polarize the whole nation with black and white, with color issues, with racial profiling and we`re going to stick to information. We`re going to stick to an issue and we`re going to stick to a tragedy that makes this person`s life lesser than what it really is.
This is about justice. This is about injustice.
And if we are going it be looking at all the facts and we are going to look at the culmination of information that`s going on, we also have to look at fact that George Zimmerman in 2005 was also arrested for battery on a police officer. We also have to look at the fact that the police officer who was in charge of the investigation at the crime site was also coming under scrutiny in 2010 because his lieutenant had pictures of his son and his son was arrested for actually beating a black man, a homeless black man, on tape, and there was no justice in that.
PINSKY: There`s an ongoing problem in justice.
COPELAND: I think she`s right. And I think what she`s suggesting, look, this is a microcosm of a larger thematic issue in our society. Look, whatever happens in this case, and this case is going to come and it`s going to go. And simply put, we need to recognize that this case suggests that there`s a larger theme here. There`s something bigger --
PINSKY: I agree with you.
COPELAND: It`s a racial profiling issue. It`s an issue of racism, it`s an issue of discrimination. Look, it affects not just folks of color, not just African-Americans, but Muslims, Arabs, Asians, South Asians, all kinds of people are affected by this.
So, this just as easily could have been someone else as opposed to an African-American. I think that issue resonates with a number of people.
PINSKY: But I think what people have often been aware of is that there may be some police profiling. We`re going to talk about that later. The fact how much we do our own profiling even when we don`t think we do.
WILSON: We absolutely do. We`re human beings. It`s interesting how we throw around the word humanity.
PINSKY: Fifteen seconds, Debra. Finish it.
WILSON: It`s interesting how we throw around the word humanity all the time. We`re not meticulous enough in our vernacular to really understand that humanity means just being human, which us all susceptible to it.
PINSKY: God bless you, because I think that`s where this conversation needs to stay, is that we share in this thing, elevate ourselves through it and not polarize it.
WILSON: If he weren`t black, there would still be injustice regardless.
PINSKY: Well, and that`s -- OK. That`s the -- to me that`s the ancillary issue is making sure that justice is equally served, right? Equal justice.
PINSKY: OK. Thank you, guys.
And next, the media and Trayvon Martin`s shooting death -- has the reporting been fair or has George Zimmerman already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON`S MOM: We just want the public to know that he was a regular teenager, that he was respectable and he was loved by his family and his friends.
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: I would like to see an arrest immediately. I think if we saw an arrest, we would see some movement toward justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Killing of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain, so-called, has started a national conversation about race and justice. A dialogue likely the big influence, and I think we`d all agree, has been influenced by the media. One recent headline says, quote, "Trayvon Martin case exposes worse in media," close quote. And gives this example of a 911 call made by George Zimmerman on the night Trayvon Martin was killed.
Here`s a snippet of the original version of George Zimmerman`s 911 call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something. It`s raining and he`s just walking around looking about.
DISPATCHER: OK. And this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, listen to this reedit by a major news organization. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he`s up to no good. He looks black.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: Joining me now in the conversation, Eric Deggans, media critic for the "Tampa Bay Times."
Eric, thoughts on the re-edit and some of the other scramble to be the first and capture ratings and headlines? What`s going on here with this story?
ERIC DEGGANS, TAMPA BAY TIMES: Well, it`s interesting. What you played was NBC News has been accused of altering the edit of the 911 call and they say that they`re conducting an internal investigation to find out what happened. But clearly there`s a difference between answering a question from a 911 operator and volunteering the information that this person is black. And there`s some concern that that made Zimmerman look racist.
I think we have to be careful about separating coverage. I separate it into three levels. On the one hand, we have the print coverage which I think has tried to focus on detail and facts, tell us about the neighborhood, tell us about the histories of these men, try to find out the details of the investigation and what`s going on. Television is much more about emotion as you know. It`s much more about channeling emotion.
So when the early version of the story seemed to be unarmed teen killed by neighborhood watch guy, there was this outpouring of emotion on television that I think was a little unfair to George Zimmerman.
And then we have the online world where people have quickly sort of balkanized into two sides where they`re convinced that Zimmerman is racist or convinced he`s being railroaded and they`re fighting it out on sites like "The Daily Caller" or "The Huffington Post," and it`s very polarizing.
So we have almost three or four different areas where the story`s playing out.
PINSKY: I don`t know. I kind of feel like it`s OK for television to express emotion and outrage if it elevates the conversation. I mean, we`re not part of the justice system and we`re not, you know, we`re not going to be sitting in the jury box. Is it still inappropriate for television to look after this and keep the conversation going?
DEGGANS: Well, you said "if it elevates the conversation." I think that`s a big part of it. That`s a big if.
Having someone like Geraldo Rivera come on television and say Trayvon Martin was killed because he was wearing a hoodie or the fact he was wearing a hoodie was a material contribution, or you talked about the sort of conflict between Toure and Piers Morgan that happened on Friday. I`m not sure that these discussions add a lot or elevate the conversation.
And, in fact, what we need now is we need facts. We need to know, as specifically as we can, what happened there.
One of the great frustrations of this situation is that there are two people who know what happened in the entirety of that interaction between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. One of them is dead and one of them has a tremendous incentive to bend the story toward his own priorities. So --
PINSKY: That`s right. No, thank you, Eric. I appreciate your commentary. And I`m sure we`ll be checking in with you again as this thing unfolds.
Now, an open letter posted online by actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry has received more than 100,000 likes on Facebook. It recounts an incident in which he claims he was profiled by police when driving from his Atlanta studio.
Perry said of the alleged racial profiling, quote, "It was hostile, I was so confused. It happened so fast. I could easily see how this situation could get out of hand very quickly. I didn`t feel safe at all."
I want to go out to William July. He is a, I believe, you`re an officer, is that right? You`ve been an officer.
I want to know, what kind of training officers get for this kind of -- to avoid this kind of profiling.
WILLIAM JULY, FORMER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Well, I`ve been an officer, Dr. Drew. I`m a clinical psychologist now.
The -- people often forget that police officers don`t come from mars. Police officers are human beings. And so, police officers come into situations with thoughts, behaviors, feelings, which is what an attitude is.
But what`s happening in this case, in terms of whether or not there was profiling, is this very, very frightening situation where a certain mentality is taken and it grows into -- it snowballs into this whole belief that persons that are dressed a certain way or look a certain way, we can act on that, we can believe that, we can move forward and proceed that they are -- that they are -- police officers are trained to look at things that look different, but not to act on a preconceived notion -- if that makes sense.
PINSKY: Well, it kind of does to me, in that there is, I think, one of the things we`re sort of seeing from this story is that there`s an unconscious or semiconscious level that racism operates.
And my question is, how do we -- how do we allow officers to do their job but not succumb to what is a still deep, unconscious racism in this country?
JULY: And that`s a good point. On the unconscious level, we all -- someone said this earlier on your show -- that was a very good point. We all respond to things. People see me. I`m a large, black man. They don`t know I`m a psychologist. They just react to that.
Now, that`s OK to react initially to that. As long as your reaction is not damning me and condemning me. And what happened in this case is someone, George Zimmerman, saw a person, Trayvon, and assumed that he was a criminal.
It`s not a big deal to say, who`s this guy walking out here at night? That`s not the problem. The problem was that he then acted. He had thoughts, feelings, and actions based on what he thought.
People say perception is reality. Perception is not always reality. In this case, it wasn`t.
PINSKY: Right. And Dr. July, I think the points are very well served.
But, Trenton, what do we do with this? So, how does justice play out given what we`re hearing here?
COPELAND: You know, I think it`s going to be a slow turn of the wheel of justice. And that`s unfortunate, because I think most people would like there to be some resolution in this case. I know I would.
But the reality is, that, you know, this is a case that largely stems from someone having a preconceived notion about someone else. And they have --
PINSKY: Which is what Officer July just said, Dr. July just said. And that`s the problem. That he acted on it, though.
COPELAND: That he acted on.
PINSKY: By the way, when you treat somebody with a preconceived notion about who they are, they`re likely to respond the way you`ve casted them. That`s really the problem here.
COPELAND: Well, there`s no question about it.
PINSKY: He was stalking this guy, reacting hostilely (ph) because he thought he was hostile. Guess what? He became hostile.
COPELAND: Tragically so.
Look, he stalked the kid or he perceived that the kid was stalking him and suddenly, this became this combustible situation information where one thought the other was stalking the other and then simply chaos.
PINSKY: It`s kind of what Tyler Perry was talking about is that these are volatile situations. You have to be really careful.
I got to go to break. Thank you to William and Eric for joining us.
Next, I`m talking to one of my own show producers who himself had Tyler Perry experience with racial profiling. Trent`s going to help me break that down. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: It feels good to be home.
FULTON: This means the most to us. A lot of people asked me how am I standing up, and my child is shot and killed? The only thing that I could tell you, that it is God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back.
Now, movie mogul Tyler Perry recently posted on Facebook an account of having been racially profiled during a recent traffic stop. His post received over 100,000 likes.
How bad is racial profiling among minority men?
Back with me is criminal defense attorney, Trent Copeland. Joining us now is one of my own show producers, Damu Bobb. He unfortunately had a similar Tyler Perry experience.
Damu, what was it that happened to you?
DAMU BOBB, PRODUCER, HLN`S "DR. DREW": I was driving down Malibu, driving in Malibu on PCH, Saturday afternoon around 2:00 in the afternoon. I was pulled over. The cops said I made an illegal left turn. Don`t really know what that is.
And my first reaction was, did I have my seat belt on, did I have my cell phone? I talk on my cell phone. And then I realized I wasn`t.
Cop comes to side of the door, other one on the other side and the questioning frightened me was: do you have a gun? Do you have any drugs in the car? Are you a drug dealer?
Those sorts of questions, they got me kind of frightened because I had my 2-year-old son in the back seat. That`s when I realized that this is a situation where I remember that conversation that Tyler Perry wrote in his facebook post was: yes, sir, no, sir. Basic stuff like that. So I would not escalate the situation any further. So --
PINSKY: Was that sufficient to deescalate it?
BOBB: It kind of was. You say yes, sir, no, sir, and you don`t want to -- you kind of just follow their orders. They kind of back off. Then they went back, ran my license plate, ran my license, my insurance --
PINSKY: Did you have a hoodie on?
BOBB: I did not have a hoodie on. I had sunglasses.
PINSKY: What are your thoughts, Trent?
COPELAND: This is a common occurrence and it`s unfortunate that it happens, and it`s unfortunate we have to have this kind of dialogue, but it happens. I can tell you from a legal perspective, those kinds of questions are not normal questions that are asked generally speaking --
PINSKY: I`ve never been asked about a gun.
COPELAND: Most white Americans never have been asked do you have guns, do you have drugs, are you a drug dealer? And you`re carrying your son in the back of the car.
Anyone who tells you from a legal perspective that cop or those who cops were simply doing their jobs, they`re lying. That`s not how that goes.
But I think the larger issue is, and I think we were talking about this earlier, really from our perspective, why do you have to have -- why are we having this dialogue? And then I think as you were suggesting earlier, and your question was, now, what`s white America asking?
PINSKY: Well, this was -- you mentioned this during the break. I thought it was a great question.
BOBB: Right. No, absolutely. You know, I look at the Trayvon Martin situation and I look at my son who`s two and I`m sad because I`m going to have to have this Trayvon Martin conversation or the driving while black conversation with nigh son. We do the -- you know, do the sex conversation --
PINSKY: The birds and the bees.
BOBB: The birds and the bees. I`m also going to have to have the driving while black conversation.
But I`m looking at this Trayvon Martin situation is I have to say to myself, you know, what are white parents telling their kids? What is their aha moment when they look at this case and they see a 17-year-old boy that`s technically doing all the right things and losing his life?
PINSKY: Damu, it is such --
BOBB: I mean, you`re a parent, Drew.
PINSKY: -- it`s such a great question. And here`s what it`s not. It`s not about how to deal with the police. It`s not "don`t wear a hoodie". Think of how sad that is.
It`s not the stuff you`re having to do. Now, I can tell you my kids are heading toward young adulthood. My conversation is just, do you get this? Do you get the depths of this? You have tons of African-American friends. Did this change your perception of what -- how they`re growing up, what they`re dealing with?
That`s where we`re going with this. But we don`t have to have those conversations about how to get through life.
COPELAND: You don`t have to have those conversations. Remember, Geraldo Rivera came out and he apologized for the insensitive comments. Mostly because it was his son, it was his 30-year-old son who came to him, and said, Dad, you don`t get.
PINSKY: I got to break. Good. I want to get his son on his show.
OK. Your calls and comments next. And later, we`re going to talk about autism.
Back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): This is what comes to mind for a lot of people when they think of autism, but it`s a common and rather incorrect portrayal of the condition. The important part is the human story. Families and individuals facing a mysterious condition with no known cause nor cure.
And tonight, those people are right here, trying to separate fact from fiction. What should you know? When should you worry? When are you worrying too much?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Many of you have questions and comments about the Trayvon Martin case. So, let`s get right to them. I have Enne in Las Vegas. What do you got to say?
ENNE, LAS VEGAS: Hi, Dr. Drew. I`m very upset over the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. I`m a Caucasian parent, and I feel for what this family`s gone through.
ENNE: Ever since I`ve seen the video at the police station, I`m more convinced than ever that this was murder. And my question is, why did Zimmerman have to shoot to kill? Is he felt as like --
PINSKY: You know, is it Enne or Enne? Enne?
ENNE: It`s Enne. It sounds like Penny.
PINSKY: I`m sorry. Like penny. There`s a whole bunch of stuff packed into your question there. First of all, the whole shoot to kill idea. I was reading somewhere -- I don`t know if we`re going to talk to this guy or not.
I was reading somewhere that when military personnel are stressed, there`s some data on this somewhere, when they like they`re attacked and their life is in jeopardy, they never shoot just once, they shoot repeatedly. So, the fact he shot once suggests that he really didn`t feel his life was endangered because that just flies in the face of the data, how people behave in those situations.
And then, you bring up a really important point. It seems like he shot to kill. He didn`t shoot him in the leg. You know what I`m saying? You`re absolutely right. Yes. I mean, that is very, very disturbing. And then, the other thing you brought up is how sad this is for the family. I`m not sure we stay focused on that enough. Do you have kids?
ENNE: I have a daughter. And I -- yes, it`s an issue of race, but it`s also an issue of right and wrong. And it`s affected me. It just has affected me knowing that what if that was my daughter just walking to my home?
PINSKY: So, what do you tell her? Do you have to have the don`t wear a hoodie and don`t -- I mean, we`re hearing, you know, constantly on this set, African-American parents having to have this conversation with their sons. Do you have to have that with your daughter? No, right?
PINSKY: Yes. I mean, you have a different conversation with her. Have the conversation that your friends that are Black have to have this conversation with their kids. That`s the conversation to have with our Caucasian children, OK?
PINSKY: All right. Enne, thank you for your call. I appreciate it.
Now, we`ve got Melissa here. "Why are we debating that Zimmerman was using self-defense? He was chasing Trayvon. I just don`t understand how this can even be considered self-defense when Zimmerman was chasing him."
Listen, you know, guys, you keep bringing up the great points. What was that? Facebook or Twitter? That must have been Facebook. Of course. I mean, here`s the point I want to bring out, that social psychology experiments show over and over again, when you expect somebody to behave a certain way, you tend to elicit that behavior from them.
In other words, if I come up to somebody and I think they`re going to attack me and I go and attack them, guess what they`re going to do? They`re going to defend themselves. It`s going to look like they`re attacking me in my head. That`s what we`re talking about here is that when you stalk a guy and act aggressively and suspiciously, no wonder Trayvon turned back and tried to defend himself.
No wonder. I mean, that`s the part of this, regardless of whether he has a cut on his head, or he`s got a broken nose or whatever. Who cares? Larry in Las Vegas. You wanted to ring in?
LARRY, LAS VEGAS: Yes. Hi, Dr. Drew. I have a perspective and a comment.
PINSKY: Please, Larry.
LARRY: OK. One major difference that I see between Black people and White people is that Black people know what an injustice looks like when we see it.
PINSKY: Well, OK, I want to stop you right there, because that`s the piece of this that I think that the non-African-American community doesn`t get quite so vividly. And I want you to get into this with me. Why does justice become really such an important point here? I think I was talking to Trent about that off the air. Tell me why justice, itself, is such a critical thing for you?
LARRY: Well, we were taught to believe that justice was blind. And what we see with regard to the Trayvon Martin case --
LARRY: It`s true that justice has proven to be --
PINSKY: Are you African-American, yourself, Larry?
LARRY: Yes, sir.
PINSKY: And has justice been -- how old are you, if you don`t mind me asking?
LARRY: I`m 55.
PINSKY: Across your life, I bet you`ve seen an evolution of what justice means for African-Americans.
LARRY: Yes, I grew up in the south.
PINSKY: So, dude, Larry, where are you now?
LARRY: I`m in Las Vegas.
PINSKY: You`re in Las Vegas. So, it`s a lot different.
PINSKY: And so, you`ve seen this. You`ve lived this. You`ve lived real injustice and then here we are still seeing subtle pernicious injustice, aren`t we?
LARRY: Definitely so. Definitely so. I road on the back of the bus. I saw Blacks struggling for voting rights, and these type of things that there was no justice.
PINSKY: Larry, does this just bring that all back? Is that what`s happening here?
LARRY: It brings it all back, yes.
PINSKY: OK. Well, I don`t know what else to say, except it shouldn`t. And I don`t mean that your feelings are wrong. I`m just saying, that was that, and thank God that`s not happening anymore. But this is a new level we have to deal with. It`s a new sort of subtler more difficult -- I call it pernicious. It`s like it`s hard to fair it out, but we`ve got to get at it, don`t you agree?
LARRY: Well, what`s the answer to a young Black man being gunned down and the perpetrator has not even been held accountable for it?
PINSKY: You know, you`re right, man. It`s injustice. I totally agree with you. And I have one word -- the only word I know to respond with that is Florida, because that seems to be one of the issues here is they have some crazy laws there that even Jeb Bush thinks were never meant to be applied this way.
But, Larry, I really appreciate your insight. And I hope you`ll call us back as we dig on through this case. It`s a conversation we`ve got to keep top of mind.
LARRY: Thank you for doing so.
PINSKY: Thanks, Larry.
This is another Facebook post from Hinesley who says, did George Zimmerman ever identify himself as a neighborhood watchman?" Good question. "It seems like the situation could have been diffused by at least identifying himself. Testosterone gets man in a lot of trouble." Truer words have never been spoken.
Debra in the first segment was talking about how we all need to remember we`re human beings here. And yes, the X/Y version, testosterone, yes, it makes men violent. But that`s, again, neither here nor there, because we have two men we`re dealing with here.
And the issues -- it`s obvious what the issues are. I don`t mean we`re making light -- making quips about testosterone. Jeannie from Indianapolis. Go right ahead, Jeannie.
JEANNIE, INDIANAPOLIS: Hi, Dr. Drew. First of all, I want to say how sorry I am for Trayvon`s parents and families and what they`re going through, but I`d like to draw attention to the police tape when George Zimmerman was being brought through miscellaneous doors.
PINSKY: Yes. Yes.
JEANNIE: At one point, he takes the time to wipe his feet off.
PINSKY: Yes. JEANNIE: And I, myself, I`m a very courteous person, but if I had just shot and killed someone, 30 minutes earlier, I seriously don`t think that I`d be thinking about wiping my feet.
PINSKY: It`s a weird thing, isn`t it? And the other thing, Jeannie, is a lot of media focus on was his head bleeding or wasn`t bleeding? Hey, we know he had grass on the back of his jacket. We know he was on the ground and there was a struggle.
There are eyewitnesses telling that. Who cares if there`s bleeding on the back of his neck? But you bring up something very interesting. What does your gut tell you about that guy?
JEANNIE: I think body language says a lot about someone, and I think he was consciously thinking about appearing that he was a rule following person instead of just being devastated about having just taken someone`s life.
PINSKY: Very interesting. And, again, we`ve been talking, so far, today about how trying to look at his testimony really analyze it. You bring up a really interesting point that we`ll have to keep in mind. Thank you, my dear, for that call.
Finally, Angelo, "Everyone discriminates one way or another, you can`t change that, but you can change the way you respond to it." And I think there`s something to that. By the way, I don`t agree with you. I think that people have subconscious biases and things, but we can work hard. We can work hard on expunging that as much as we can, and certainly, I think the big story here is we can`t act on these things.
We`ve got to really be more reflective, more conscious, more aware of these things. Thank you for your calls and comments, guys.
Next up, April is Autism Awareness Month. We`re going to be talking with "Amazing Race" contestant, Zev Glassenberg, who, himself, was diagnosed with Asperger`s syndrome when he was 11 years old. We`re going to get into this conversation after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZEV GLASSENBERG, FORMER CONTESTANT, "AMAZING RACE": Asperger`s is a social situation type thing. I`m not much of a people person. It takes me a little longer to get more comfortable with somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: April is Autism Awareness Month, and today is World Autism Awareness Day. Last week, the CDC reported that one in 88 children are affected by autism or some form of this disorder. That`s a 23 percent increase, apparently, since 2009. So, are these new numbers linked to a rise in the disorder? Or can they be attributed to more rigorous, or perhaps, enthusiastic diagnostics by the medical community?
Here with me to discuss this, Zev Glassenberg. Zev has been diagnosed with Asperger`s syndrome on autistic spectrum disorder. And in 2011, he was a contestant on reality show, "The Amazing Race." Matt Asner is the executive director of Autism Speaks, and his son has been diagnosed with autism, his son, Will.
And Dr. Max -- Wiznitzer. I`m sorry, Dr. Wiznitzer. He`s a pediatric neurologist and is a renowned expert in the field of autism. Dr. Wiznitzer, I want to begin with you. Should we be alarmed by these numbers from the CDC or what does it tell you?
DR. MAX WIZNITZER, PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGIST: What the numbers tell us that this is a common problem in the community. Whether you want to use the word alarmed or whether you want to say that you should be concerned, it tells us it`s common.
We need to identify these kids more timely. We need to make sure that we do interventions in a timely fashion and we have the resources to do it and the resources to identify reasons why.
PINSKY: And Dr. Wiznitzer, of course, one of the things that parents are always asking is why? Why is this going up? What are we doing to make it go up? Lots of mythology comes up as a result of parents` anxiety about this.
WIZNITZER: You`re correct. I mean, the mythology -- let`s start with the mythology. People talk about things like vaccines which we know have been repudiated. There`s lot of good research telling us vaccines don`t cause autism and are not linked to it.
On the hand, the numbers that we have in part, if not in whole, are explained by features such as increased awareness, not only by the society but also by the medical and diagnostic community.
It`s also associated with expansion of the clinical criteria so that we now are identifying kids who are more mildly affected than we were, for instance, 25 years ago when I first started seeing these individuals. Also, the idea that we have more resources for them.
PINSKY: And so, Matt, I`m going to paraphrase what Dr. Wiznitzer is saying is that we`ve expanded the spectrum so more kids are being thought as having this disorder, and there`s more awareness of it and better treatment. Your organization is doing a lot to try to bring that, keep that going.
MATT ASNER, EXEC. DIR., "AUTISM SPEAKS": Yes. And I think that`s part of the puzzle. I think there`s also more cases. And I don`t think people can deny that. We`re in the middle of what we can call an epidemic now.
And, you know, we need to make sure that children are diagnosed at at least 18 months, and we have to make sure we take care of our entire population which includes our adult.
PINSKY: Why is early diagnosis important?
ASNER: Because early treatment is imperative for children to see a better life.
PINSKY: And, Zev, you`ve had to deal with this thing. Did you -- were you aware there was something going on? Did it trouble you at any point or it`s just been your life story?
GLASSENBERG: It`s kind of been my life story. I`ve had my ups and downs, but, you know --
PINSKY: Like everybody.
PINSKY: So, it`s not really impaired your ability to function in any way?
GLASSENBERG: Well, I would say it takes me a little longer to get used to things when I`m in social situations.
PINSKY: So, you don`t -- with the Asperger`s, you don`t read social cues as quite as readily as --
PINSKY: OK. Let`s get to some of this mythology and separate fact from fiction regarding autism and autistic spectrum. First up, here`s something that people allege that autism appears more frequently in males. Dr. Wiznitzer, is that true or false?
WIZNITZER: That`s true. It`s been known since the early days. The numbers have ranged anywhere between a 2-1 ratio to a 4-1 or 5-1 ratio. The most recent data suggests that the rate in boys is as high as one in 54, while in girls, it`s four times less.
PINSKY: Here`s another myth. Vaccines are a known cause of autism. Dr. Wiznitzer referenced that, Matt. What do you say about this?
ASNER: Well, I think the doctor stated correctly that it`s been kind of debunked, and --
PINSKY: Why have people Clinged to this? It`s so dangerous, such a dangerous thing for them to cling to.
ASNER: I don`t know the answer to that. It seems like an easy answer, and there are some, you know, coincidences, but it has been proven that vaccines are not the culprit.
PINSKY: Here`s another one. There is no medical cure for autism. Dr. Wiznitzer, what do you say to that one?
WIZNITZER: There`s no cure per se, but you can really make the kids` function so much better, because goal is not to be cured. The goal is to have as normal functioning as possible. And in that case, we have very effective interventions both for managing the core features and problems, getting rid of unwanted behaviors and managing comorbidities such as ADHD and anxiety.
PINSKY: Now, more children will be diagnosed with this condition this year -- oh, I`m sorry, more children will be diagnosed this year with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined than with autism. Matt, do you know whether that`s fact or fiction?
ASNER: Well, actually, I believe it`s more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined.
PINSKY: So, this is a fiction. That is exactly correct. Zev, were you aware of all this?
GLASSENBERG: I was not.
PINSKY: Do people know that you have Asperger`s? Do you sort of make that part of your -- when you relate to people or get to know people?
GLASSENBERG: It`s not the first thing I say. It`s, hi, I`m Zev, I have Asperger`s.
PINSKY: Right, I would think not. I would think not. That`s exactly the point I was trying to make.
GLASSENBERG: Maybe the second or third.
PINSKY: You`re not your condition. You are Zev.
GLASSENBERG: I am Zev.
ASNER: And I`d like to point something out. You know, Zev is, you know, an example of someone with Asperger`s, but as they call it a spectrum. It`s a very wide spectrum.
ASNER: And Zev could be on one side.
ASNER: And we could have someone who`s non-verbal like Carly Fleischmann who`s now speaking through a typewriter, on the other side and even deeper down the spectrum. So, it`s a very wide spectrum.
PINSKY: And Zev, does -- like being on television, is that tough for you?
PINSKY: It`s easy.
PINSKY: Did being on the reality show help you?
GLASSENBERG: Yes. It gave me more confidence and taught me. It was an everyday experience.
PINSKY: There you are on the show if you can take a look. See yourself. I don`t know what you`re doing there.
GLASSENBERG: I am herding ducks.
PINSKY: Of course, you are. And the gentleman that`s with you, your partner in the race. Is that your friend?
GLASSENBERG: My teammate. Yes. Justin. He`s sitting over there.
PINSKY: Justin`s actually in the studio with us. And Justin, he`s been with you a long time, right? He`s been a friend for many years?
GLASSENBERG: Seven or eight years.
PINSKY: So, it doesn`t permit you from having good friends.
PINSKY: That`s for sure. All right. Let`s go to -- oh, we`re going to go to another different issue about autism, which is -- Dr. Wiznitzer, let me correct myself here. Dr. Wiznitzer, is there any other information we need to get out about this condition before we give up on the fact and fiction?
WIZNITZER: The condition is -- the key thing is that screening is important. I guess, that`s a key thing. Well-child visits, children should be screened at 18 and 24 months per the American Academy Pediatric recommendations. You identify autism, other developmental disorders. In that case, get them into intervention early and avoid potential problems in further future.
PINSKY: Well, it`s interesting you bring that particular issue up, because we`re going to review that in the next segment. Now, if your child isn`t showing signs of autism at 12 months, the question will be, are you in the clear? And that may not always be the case. We`re going to tell you why after this.
PINSKY: Parents need to be aware if their child begins to exhibit some of the symptoms of autism or autism spectrum. A person with autistic spectrum disorder might not respond to their name by 12 months of age, avoid eye contact and want to be alone, have delayed speech and language skills, repeat words or phrases over and over, get upset by minor changes, and potentially flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circle.
Dr. Wiznitzer, is there an age at which parents can begin to stop worrying that their child might eventually develop some of these symptoms?
WIZNITZER: Well, by definition, the features should be present by age three years, but some of them can be so subtle or parents may not be aware of differences between their child and someone else that I would argue that you really have to still monitor their functioning through the early school age years.
In the CDC study that was just done, they actually identified individuals in the school aged years as having it when they had not been identified by healthcare providers before that time.
PINSKY: And, Matt, you were saying that this is even old data, that the numbers are going to be, as we move forward, we`re going to be hearing about more and more data.
ASNER: Yes. There was a --
PINSKY: Bigger numbers.
ASNER: There was a study in Korea done recently that was a much more comprehensive study, and it was more recently done. That suggests one in 35. So --
PINSKY: Zev, what are your thoughts on all this? I mean, we`re having this conversation swirling around you. You know, does it mean anything to you? Do you worry about it?
GLASSENBERG: I don`t really worry about it. I kind of worry about my own world and stuff. I guess, it is my world, but hopefully, they`ll find better things for the kids in the future and stuff.
PINSKY: That have more serious autistic spectrum.
PINSKY: How does it affect you now other than you don`t catch up socially with things quite the way you might?
GLASSENBERG: I go through mood swings pretty quick, and I am --I would say I`m a little more on the immature side.
PINSKY: How old were you when you were diagnosed?
GLASSENBERG: I was a 11.
PINSKY: Eleven. And what did you think when you were first diagnosed?
GLASSENBERG: To me, it was just a word. So, it was kind of just going through your day-to-day stuff and either we`ll see what happens or we won`t.
PINSKY: Are there particular treatments that you found helpful?
GLASSENBERG: I`ve never been treated for it.
PINSKY: Do you have a girlfriend?
GLASSENBERG: I do not.
GLASSENBERG: I do not.
PINSKY: Is that something you`re looking forward to?
GLASSENBERG: I`m looking for a girlfriend, yes.
PINSKY: OK. So, we`ll put a plea out there.
GLASSENBERG: All right. Let`s go.
PINSKY: But it doesn`t -- the point is, although you may, like, a lot of patients complain of with Asperger`s is things like when a group changes in their dynamic, you might not pick up on that. If everyone starts laughing all at once, that might seem a little confusing to you.
GLASSENBERG: No. I will laugh if something`s funny.
PINSKY: But one-on-one, you probably are better than, say, when groups change direction emotionally, I bet.
GLASSENBERG: Yes, if there`s -- like, for example, I went to India and there was a lot of people and a lot of smells, and I will never go back to India.
PINSKY: You get overwhelmed by it.
GLASSENBERG: Yes. I don`t even like this earpiece in my ear right now.
PINSKY: You know what, I don`t either.
PINSKY: So, you`re not alone with that. Matt, are there any last bits of information we need to get out here?
ASNER: Well, I would just say that, you know, one in 88 is a very large number, and with anything else, if we had some sort of smallpox outbreak, we would all be, you know, very worried about it, very concerned about it and it would be -- it would be a very alarming thing. I just -- I hope, you know, we all start taking this seriously.
We need to start taking this epidemic seriously. We need our legislators to take it seriously. We need to fund research into early intervention and treatment, you know --
PINSKY: We need to figure out where it`s coming from.
ASNER: We do.
PINSKY: And help with the cause early. So, thank you, Zev, thank you, Matt, thank you, Dr. Wiznitzer, and of course, thank you to my viewers. Thanks for watching. We will see you next time.