Could not agree more. Murder is murder and assault is assault. There are varying levels of severity, but we shouldn't be giving heavier penalties for ignorance.[/quote]
I'm curious whether you understand the legal system. You, yourself, just said "there are varying levels of severity, but we shouldn't be giving heavier penalties for ignorance." So you admit that if person X is killed, we should NOT treat the killer the same but should look INTO THE MIND of the killer. In doing this, we assess what is called "scienter." Scienter is just a fancy legal word that means 'how big a dick are you?' For example, say person X is ran over by a car. The WORST case scenario is if the driver, with malice aforethought, intended to run that "son of a bitch" over and wanted cause the victim as much pain as possible. The second worst, (i.e., murder in the second degree) is a depraved heart murder, which would be if a person got in a car, started driving 30 mph, then steered into a crowded park and closed his eyes. While it cannot be said he meant for person X to die, he knew his actions would likely kill someone, and as such, he has a depraved heart. Other examples of depraved heart is shooting randomly into a crowded club. you don't know who is gonna get hit, but you know someone is likely to. The most acceptable killing is murder in the third degree. An example is a normal person driving, they were checking their blind spot to merger and accidentally hit and killed person X. Society does not punish this person because they did not mean to.
In each of those examples, the court LOOKS INTO THE MIND of the killer to find out whether he meant to kill, and if so, assesses how cold and calculating he was. In the case above, both the cold blooded killer who wanted to get that 'son of a bitch' and the person who was checking their blind spot are guilty of MURDER. You admit there are varying degrees of severity, i.e., the cold blooded killer should be guilty of murder one, and the person checking their blind spot guilty of murder in the third degree. As you can see, your simple tautology is NOT TRUE, all murder is not murder, and all assault is not assault. In fact, it's possible to run person X over and not even be guilty or murder, but rather voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
In all situations, person X was ran over by the killer. But as you can see, the nuances of the legal system are such that an identical factual situation (of running person X over with a car and killing them) can result in a person not spending a single day in jail, or the person being executed by the State under capital punishment. The difference between these two extremes, life as usual or death row, is THE MENTAL STATE OF THE PERSON. To say we cannot look into the mental state of the person simply shows how little is known about the American legal system. The body count mean very little when it comes to crime, scienter is everything.
GAY BASHING IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF MALICE AND SCIENTER.