From an opinion piece in the NY Times:
[The former governor of Alaska], a woman who was nearly a heartbeat away from the presidency, now tells followers that “Obama death panels” could decide if her parents and her baby, Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, will live or die.
The United States, like most countries, has long had a lunatic fringe who channel in the flotsam of delusion, half-facts and conspiracy theories. But now, with the light-speed and reach of the Web, entire virtual crank communities have sprung up. They are fed, in the case of Sarah Palin, by people who should know better.
For a democracy, which depends on an informed citizenry to balance a permanent lobbying class, this is poison. And it’s one reason why town hall forums on health care, which should be sharp debates about something that affects all of us, have turned into town mauls.
The lies and shouts have had the effect that all crank speech has on free speech — stifling any real exchange.