A recent editorial on health care reform in Investor's Business Daily contained the following little nugget:
"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."
It seems that the writer of this editorial was blissfully unaware that Professor Hawking is in fact a British citizen. He was born in Oxford, grew up in London, and is currently the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a chair once held by Sir Isaac Newton.
And the medical treatments for his ALS are provided by the UK's National Health Service.
In responce to this bit of, well, uninformed tripe, Professor Hawking said the following (of course through his speech synthesizer, which lacks an English accent and thus might be considered the source of IBD's, er, confusion):
The IBD article has since been stripped of the Hawking reference. More about this in articles at the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Register, and the Telegraph.
Of course, this is all part of a larger debate about health care reform in the United States. There are certainly things to be concerned about in the proposed reforms, but rational debate and discussion about them is being drowned out by vacuous and uninformed screaming about things that are not even part of what is being proposed. The "deathers" like Sarah Palin who carry on about mythical "Obama Death Panels" and falsehoods about people being forced to drop the insurance they currently have and like are starting to make the "birther" nutjobs look relatively sane. Conservative talking heads like Limbaugh, Beck, and Malkin spout the lies, their listeners and viewers naively take it on faith that they are being told the truth, go out to town hall meetings with elected officials and vent their anger. Sadly, the most susceptible targets for this misinformation campaign are the elderly, who are being falsely told, point blank, explicitly, that Obama's proposed reforms will kill them!
This isn't civil political discourse. This is a one-sided screaming match.
(FYI: For an interesting glimpse into what is wrong with our current system, take a look here.)