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Award to go to torture scenes

October 10, 2007|Martin Miller

TV now has an award for torture -- and it has nothing to do with "Kid Nation."

Human Rights First, a New York-based nonprofit, has nominated five television series - "Lost," "The Closer," "Boston Legal," "Criminal Minds" and "The Shield" -- for excellence in realistically portraying torture or interrogation. .

"As incongruous as it may seem for a human rights group to 'honor' the depiction of torture, these awards recognize that only a handful of TV shows have taken the time necessary to depict torture in a thoughtful, realistic fashion," said David Danzig, director of Human Rights First's Primetime Torture project.

"Viewers of these programs don't walk away saying to themselves, 'Gee, this stuff really works!' "

Torture scenes on television have risen dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, jumping from an average of about four a year before to more than 100 afterward, the group says.

Most such scenes show intelligence being quickly extracted from the victim after rough and sometimes gruesome treatments are imposed.

This contradicts the vast majority of research showing that torture usually yields faulty, inaccurate or deliberately misleading information from subjects, according to Danzig. The pop culture influence of these programs, however, has led to torture abuses by American soldiers in Iraq, the group says.

The award will be presented at a dinner in New York on Monday.

-- Martin Miller

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