“…we’re one of the few remaining countries on earth where guidance on this subject is still in demand”.
I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Amnesty International says (http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/numbers) that 96 countries have abolished the death penalty, 58 still use have it, and 23 carried out executions in 2010. I wouldn’t call 58 or even 23 “a few”. Further, I suspect - but I am too lazy to do the research - that while only about a third of countries still use the death penalty many of those like China have very large populations. How many people live in a country that uses the death penalty?
I’m thinking there is still plenty of reason to have official execution manuals, although I’ll acknowledge that ensuring executions are humane and aesthetic may not be a big priority everywhere.
“And then, not only will you be dead, but we’ll all be happy about it! The band will play cheerful, upbeat music, the sun will be shining and the birds will be singing, and maybe there’ll be a rainbow and a single shaft of golden sunlight will illuminate your lifeless, broken-necked body dangling from the gallows!”
I always understood that hanging was very imprecise. So many people didn’t end up with a broken neck and actually choked- and in some cases the hangman actually had tp grab the “victim” so his added weight did the job. (I have no cites for this).
Also, I understand that the stress of the job was immense. Either alcoholics were employed, or the hangmen ended up alcoholics.