24, Torture, and Desensitivization

Headlife likes 24, the Fox TV show that follows a team of anti-terrorism agents over 24 hours as they try to avert various impending apocalypses. Along with Lost, it’s my only essential TV viewing.

But what’s up with the torture? So far we’ve had a captured terrorist shot in the kneecap, sensory deprivation inflicted on the son of the Secretary of Defense, a wrongly-accused CTU agent given the tasering treatment, a thumb ground into the gunshot wound of a captured woman suspect, and Jack’s bird’s ex-husband given a spot of electrocution a la Bauer.

My first reaction was, wow, how unsubtle can Fox get? See! Torture is necessary! But Kevin at The Washington Monthly thinks it’s the other way around–torture doesn’t work:

1. The terrorist squeals, but it’s too late.
2. The SoD’s son provides no information.
3. The CTU agent turns out to be wrongly accused.
4. Jack gains the woman’s trust by telling his wound-grinding buddy to back off.

The question is, will the American viewing public realise this, or will 24 persuade them of the necessity of torture in dangerous times such as these? What’s Fox’s intent?