Movie hype makes torture exhibit popular

SAN DIEGO – The controversial movie “Zero Dark Thirty” has brought attention to a Balboa Park museum exhibit featuring torture instruments, a museum curator said.

Thumb screws and skull splitters were a couple devices museum curator Rex Garniewicz couldn’t even image until working on the “Instruments of Torture” exhibit at the Museum of Man.

“It makes you uncomfortable, but it makes you think about torture in a different way,” he said.

Some of these pieces are not old.

“They found an Iron Maiden in Iraq. U.S. troops did outside of the Iraqi Olympic compound and it was being used to torture athletes that didn’t perform up to expectations,” Garniewicz said.

Garniewicz said the discussion of torture changed in America after 9/11.

“People that formed their views before that were opposed to torture and people who formed their views after that said maybe there are cases where we should use torture to protect our national security.”

The Oscar nominated movie “Zero Dark Thirty” that portrays waterboarding and other modern ways of torture has been criticized.

Two former Guantanamo Bay detainees are condemning the film for its controversial torture scenes. They said the movie legitimizes abuse as a way to provide key pieces of intelligence.

The film is based on a true story, but politicians are criticizing and reminding movie watchers it’s not a documentary.

Since the movie’s release, curators at Balboa Park said they’ve seen a spike in visitors.

The Iron Maiden is just one of many instruments from a private collection in Italy that will be on display in Balboa Park through March.


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