Iran has shocked the world this afternoon by unveiling photographs of a mechanical amputation device used to chop the fingers off convicted thieves and adulterers. But are the practices of the democratic West much better?
Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty has courted controversy by appearing to condone torture, where it leads to a favourable outcome - an end-justifies-the-means attitude that contravenes international human rights legislation. And Kathryn Bigelow's film is not alone: The dubious practices of CIA agents have drawn awards notice in Hollywood product ranging from TV series Homeland to Ben Affleck's Argo.
Where general opinion goes, legislation must eventually follow - so is Hollywood playing a role in normalising - even glamorising - torture?