Imagine listening to the radio and hearing the host tell you that a fellow student had “fired the full CC of spunk into [named girl] from Kilkenny, inter-anally.” It’s a sentence that it simultaneously hilarious and horrifying, but language like this is par for the course on Keepin’ It Country.
Keepin’ It Country is a radio show that airs on Belfield FM every Wednesday between 7 pm and 8 pm. The show usually features four Agricultural Science students Thomas Hayes, Enda Shalvey, Colm Ronan and Mark Connolly, discussing farming news, campus events and student scandal. The show has been reincarnated every year for the past four years and it’s Facebook page currently has over 3,200 likes, making it one of the most popular shows on UCD’s radio station. Though the first forty minutes of every episode is a well-organised and intellectual discussion on Ag Science-related topics, it is the final section that always garners the most attention: the scandals.
The ‘scandals usually encompass the last fifteen minutes of every show and involves the MCs reading out listener submitted scandals over a mismatched medley of ‘Coppers tunes’ like Maniac 2000 and anything by Big Tom. The banter between the boys, their guests and their stories about fellow students makes it clear that there is a strong community within Ag Science. To a listener that is not predisposed to language like this, it comes across as abrasive and offensive and it raises a multitude of questions.
Is it acceptable to announce on air which students have slept with each other? When the radio hosts name two students by full name and joke that they “rode” one another, the average listener has no way of knowing if this is true or not. If it is not factual and simply a joke, it becomes an issue of legality and possible defamation of the people named. But, it’s probably more likely that it’s a well-known escapade that is joked about among Ag students. In this case, the question becomes less about legality and more about morality; is it ok to announce details of someone’s sex life on air? Or is it a moral invasion of privacy?
These questions work under the assumption that the boys on Keepin’ It Country do not ask for people’s consent before reading their names out on air. Though the Tribune could not corroborate this with the show, as they refused to be interviewed. This assumption is being made on the basis of reports from two people whose names were mentioned on air that they did not consent to this and were not aware of the crude language and innuendoes that were being used in association with their names until much later.
Since there are probably no legal arguments to be made in this case, this issue is more of a moral argument between free speech and privacy. There is a sense that in this current age of Trump locker room talk, that people, especially liberals and women, no longer have the right to be upset by language like this. Despite the fact that the manner in which these boys discuss nights out and relationships disproportionately liken women to objects and animals. They do not hesitate to refer to women as “heifers” or as “fit for the slaughter.” What’s the difference between Trump saying “Grab her by the pussy” and these boys calling a woman a “pussy pocket” on air? Or Trump saying “I moved on her like a bitch” and these boys saying, “She’d suck the chrome off a ball hitch.”
Ag Science is a very insular community. Some people that the Tribune spoke to said that they would be too scared of the risk of backlash or exclusion if they were to complain or express a dislike of these ‘scandals’. Ag students have an unfortunate reputation, while the first forty minutes of every show disprove many of their stereotypes, as they discuss the importance of men’s mental health within the farming community or a fellow students liver transplant, all that is needed is the last ten minutes of abrasive and explicit language to mar their image again. This type of public shaming can have hugely negative effects on student’s perception of sexuality, on women’s confidence or on any students mental health. Yet, it is almost inappropriate to dissect and criticise a community that I am not a part of. Perhaps this is what qualifies as humour for Ag students, but maybe then it should only be aired for Ag students, and not for the entire college to subjected to.
The Tribune contacted the show for comment, but they refused to be interviewed. They opted to answer questions via email but later refused to answer these too. Though, they made a point to specify that Keepin’ It Country has no official association with the College of Agricultural Sciences or Ag Soc, despite some of the show’s hosts being committee members.
By Muireann O’Shea – CoEditor