Why is everyone trying to kill Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs?

Earlier today, CNN’s iReport ran with a story from a (ahem) "citizen journalist" who reported that Jobs had suffered a heart attack and been rushed to a local hospital. Apple said the story is untrue. The original story has been removed, but the text of the post is still flying about the Web. Quoting from the inaccurate post:

Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.

Does anyone else feel sick about this? Many signs of market manipulation are there. If that is, indeed, what we have, I hope the crook who dreamed up this stunt is fitted for an orange jumpsuit and a 3-by-5 studio at Rikers. And if the report was an honest mistake? Well, hedge funds, you'll soon know whom to thank for making it even harder for you to short anything.

This whole affair smells bad, especially since it was barely three weeks ago that a healthy Jobs introduced iTunes 8 on stage at a San Francisco event. 

For its part, the SEC says it will investigate. Good. Even if I'm against the short-sale ban, there's no disputing that high-beta stocks such as Apple are more likely to be manipulated by cheaters. Other volatile targets could include Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), GameStop (NYSE:GME), Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM), and Gmarket (NASDAQ:GMKT), all of which have a beta greater than 1.50 and are likely to move substantially more than the indexes that host them.

A wholesale ban on short-sales of these and other volatile issues is an awful idea. Bubbles are what you get when no one wants to sell anything. And yet when a stupid rumor can torpedo a stock the way the iEmpire took a beating today, the Feds have to be allowed to do their jobs.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. He hunts for the best of tech as a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team, which counts Gmarket among its holdings. Here's how to try this market-beating service free for 30 days. 

Apple and GameStop are Stock Advisor selections. Tata Motors is a Global Gains pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is short on patience today.