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Economy

Make Pillows, Not Torture

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By Pam Fessler

Like many NPR correspondents, I often hear from listeners.

This ranks among the most unusual responses:

A New York artist, Kenneth E. Parris III, says he was inspired to create something called the "Interrogation Pillow Series" by a series we did last year about a secret World War II interrogation camp in Northern Virginia.

Parris says he was tired of all the gruesome images from Abu Ghraib, but still wanted to get people thinking about torture. He was struck by the more benign methods WWII veterans said they used with great success on German prisoners brought to the U.S. in the 1940s.

The veterans told NPR they sometimes got their best information just by being nice. They even took the prisoners out to dinner and made sure they had the latest magazines.

So Parris created nine pillows, each depicting an "interrogation" technique mentioned in the NPR series.

For example, one pillow shows a man playing tennis and the words: "Interrogation Method #1 'Challenge the prisoner to a tennis match.' " Parris says he sold the series at an art show in New York this spring for $7,000. He wants to do more, but he has to find someone to make the pillows.

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His mother sewed the first set and isn't keen on doing it again.