In an interview with Hardball’s Chris Matthews, Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman, argued that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor in the confrontation that ended with his death.

He also defended audio which appears to contain Zimmerman’s use of a racial slur in reference to Martin shortly before he pursued him.

Joe Oliver: Zimmerman friend recounts blowback from fellow blacks

“It’s a matter of interpretation of whether he’s saying ‘coon’ or ‘goon,’” Oliver said. “There are a lot of parts of this country where people proudly call themselves ‘coon a**es,’ in Louisiana in particular.”

Oliver also offered that Zimmerman may have called Trayvon Martin a “goon” as a term of endearment. Think Progress reports:

An audio clip of a recorded 911 call placed by Zimmerman on the night of the shooting seems to show Zimmerman using the racially-charged word “coon” to describe Trayvon Martin. There has been some disagreement over whether the word in question really is “coon,” but Oliver appeared on MSNBC on Monday and told Chris Matthews that even if Zimmerman did use the word, it was not a display of racism because the term is actually not negative at all.

A quick Google search indicates that the term ‘coonass’ is used as an insult, and usually directed towards white Cajuns in areas in and around Louisiana. When University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban used the word in an off-the-cuff anecdote in 2007, it triggered national news coverage and led to a public apology. That all seems to be a far cry from Oliver’s claim that it’s used proudly amongst black youth in Sanford, Florida.

Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that Oliver believes the word that Zimmerman used was “goon,” and he defended the use of that as well, citing his teenage daughter when saying that “goon” is used as a term of endearment in local high schools.

WATCH HARDBALL’S CHRIS MATTHEWS INTERVIEW OLIVER BELOW:
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