A curmudgeon in a care circle

George Wilson

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s nascent experiment with “restorative justice” turned into a socioemotional demolition derby on Friday when it was unceremoniously torpedoed by president emeritus and legendary curmudgeon Checker Finn.

Finn, who had expressed his opposition to “the whole misguided exercise” both verbally and in writing prior to the events in question, was engaged in a “restorative dialogue” with a toga-clad, talking-stick-wielding Mike Petrilli when he suddenly lost patience.

“Checker, I feel bad when you call my ideas stupid,” said Petrilli, Fordham’s president, at the urging of facilitator Max Eden, who sat calmly among the crowd in Tevas. “I wish you would use another word.”

“Serves you right for making me engage with this nonsense!” replied Finn. “But OK. Henceforth I’ll refer to your harebrained schemes as ‘materially challenged’—as in they’d be plausible IF you reconsidered their material, starting with the premise...”

“Checker—“

“How I managed to get roped into this folly in the first place exceeds all understanding. I feel like a neurosurgeon who’s been appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development!”

“I feel we should just circle back to the question at hand.”

“Maybe. Remind me what were we supposed to be doing again?”

“I feel hurt by the tone of your last 45,000 emails…”

“Rubbish.”

“…and I would like it if you would promise to do better in the future, to repair the damage done to the Fordham community.”

“Perhaps they should relabel it a ‘feelings tank.’”

“You know. This won’t work unless you cooperate, Checker...”

“OF COURSE IT WON’T, MIKE. THAT’S THE POINT.”