In his insistence that condemned prisoners refrain from criticizing their captors and killers, AZ Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan is historically typical. The people who officiate at executions seem to value politeness. The executioner never seems angry. The prisoner is killed, but the killing is strangely passionless. It just seems to be the end result of a bureaucratic procedure, something that the rules demand.
After witnessing the killing of Mary, Queen of Scots, Robert Wynkfield wrote:
Then she, lying very still upon the block, one of the executioners holding her slightly with one of his hands, she endured two strokes of the other executioner with an ax, she making very small noise or none at all, and not stirring any part of her from the place where she lay: And so the executioner cut off her head, saving one little gristle, which being cut asunder, he lift up her head to the view of all the assembly and bade God save the Queen.
This sounds like a description of a medical procedure, something unpleasant that had to be done, and so everyone - especially the patient - bore it with good grace.
Here is how Plato described the death of Socrates, who was surrounded by his chums, one of whom was the executioner:
The boy went out and stayed a long time, then came back with the man who was to administer the poison, which he brought with him in a cup ready for use. And when Socrates saw him, he said: “Well, my good man, you know about these things; what must I do?” “Nothing” he replied, “except drink the poison and walk about till your legs feel heavy; then lie down, and the poison will take effect of itself.”
Socrates agreeably followed his advice, and all those in attendance wept over his death.
Good manners were on display when Eva Dugan, the only woman ever executed (so far) in Arizona was hanged in 1930. As she stood on the scaffold with a black hood over her head, the prison warden clasped her hand and said, “God bless you, Eva.” Unfortunately, the gathering became less elegant when Dugan’s head was pulled off by the noose, and rolled by the feet of the witnesses.