SCENE:  Interior shot at local hardware store. Mitch BERG is grabbing a bag of sidewalk salt.  Suddenly, Avery LIBRELLE, holding a bag of various parts, steps around the corner.

LIBRELLE:  Hah, Merg!  Your statistical analysis is shit!

BERG:  Say that again like you’re having a civil conversation in polite company.

LIBRELLE:  Your statistical analysis is bad.

BERG:  That’s a little more like it.  Care to get more specific?

LIBRELLE:  Tuesday on your blog, you said that urban gun violence correlates with Democrat-controlled cities.

BERG:  Yep.  Because when you run through the numbers, both homicide and violent crime rates are statistically much higher in cities controlled by Democrats.

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  Those were crap statistics.

BERG:  They were from the Department of Justice.

LIBRELLE:  Well, look at this!  Stats from the CDC!  And lookie there!  All those red counties with higher gun death rates than all those blue cities!  Hah!  You are an idiot and stupid and your head is full of poop!  Hahahahahaahahahahahaahaha!

BERG:  Yeah, Avery – we’ve dealt with this same exact chart on this blog before.  You don’t see how this is a non-sequitur, don’t you?

LIBRELLE!  It’s science!

BERG:  Yeah – it’s also comparing apples to axles.  My story yesterday covered homicide and violent crime rates.  This chart covers all gun deaths.  You do see the difference, don’t you?

LIBRELLE:  I see that you are a stupid idiot.

BERG:  “All gun deaths” also counts suicides, Avery. Suicides are between 65-70% of the gun deaths in this country. And it’s a form of suicide “preferred” by rural, white men, mostly lonely and socially isolated, very frequently deeply depressed and/or terminally ill. It’s especially prevalent in…the rural west.  And, being prevalent in lots of sparsely populated rural western and southern counties, it means that the gun death rate will look very high – and it comparably will be.  But that’s not the homicide rate.  Which, you will note, is almost nonexistent in most of those rural, western counties with a high “gun death rate”.

Suicide is a tragedy – but no worse than any other form of suicide (the US’s suicide rate is much lower than many countries that control guns strictly).   And it’s morally not the same as murder – which is taking someone else’s life, by definition against their will.  Which was what my story covered.

So, Avery – what does this mean.

LIBRELLE:  It means that you hate women and science and are a racist…

(LIBRELLE, gesturing expansively, knocks an elbow against a shelf.  A gallon can full of paint falls, conking LIBRELLE on the head)

BERG:  (Rushing to LIBRELLE’s assistance)  Are you OK?

LIBRELLE:  (head lolling about in mild delirium) What it really means is that it’s my statistical analysis that is “shit”, and that I should really stop playing at being a “fact checker” until I learn how to do the job, because I make myself look like an ignorant laughingstock.

HARDWARE STORE ATTENDANT:  (Rushing from the counter) Is h…,er sh…is this person OK?

BERG:  Just having a moment of clarity.  It’ll pass.



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