ugly incident involving a urinal

Should We Forgive a Former Bully Who Apologizes?

Should we forgive a former bully who apologizes for causing harm? And do we accept the decision of people who have forgiven, and supported, the bully?

For that matter, how do we differentiate between “I’m sorry for the pain I caused” and “I’m regret the fact that I got caught?”

The Coyotes First NHL Draft Pick Was a Bully

What if the former bully in question is a high profile sports figure who has expressed remorse? Does that change anything? Do celebrities, and up-and-coming sports heroes, get a pass for childhood bullying?

The Arizona Coyotes chose as its first NHL draft pick Mitchell Miller, an 18-year-old defenseman who is now a freshman at the University of North Dakota. Four years ago, in juvenile court, Miller admitted that he bullied “a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.”

The admission of guilt in court was appropriate, but it may not have gone far enough. Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, the bully’s target, never received an apology from Miller.

His mother, Joni Meyer-Crothers, explains that the harassment took went on for years and took place as recently as two years ago.  She talks about the emotional damage that Miller’s racial slurs and the ugly assaults (at least one, involving a urinal) have caused her son.

Miller vs. Meyer-Crothers

Miller is a rising NHL star. Meyer-Crothers, on the other hand, is traumatized after Miller “pretended to be my friend and made me do things I didn’t want to do.”

Although Miller has expressed contrition (albeit, not directly to Meyer-Crothers), we may wonder how sincere he is.  And we may question whether even a sincere apology would be of any help or comfort to Isaiah, at this point.

We may also ask ourselves whether we — as a society — ever can, or should, forgive bullies for their past mistakes.

But Why Were You Supporting a Bully?

Under what circumstances is an apology enough? And when should we, collectively, say “thank you, anyway” to a former bully who does seek express remorse and seek forgiveness?

Mitchell Miller and the Arizona Coyotes were dealing with a public relations glitch. Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and his family, on the other hand, are potentially facing a lifetime of physical and mental health consequences.

The Arizona Coyotes solved its PR problem by renouncing the draft rights to Mitchell Miller. Although Xavier Gutierrez,  the Coyotes president and chief executive, admitted that team officials were aware of his history as a bully and had “embraced this as a teachable moment” to allow Mitchell to redeem himself,” they “learned more about the entire matter” and changed their mind.

Coyotes’ General Manager Bill Armstrong stands behind the decision to renounce the draft rights to Miller, too. He claims he didn’t participated in this year’s Draft, and that may very well be true.

We’ve heard the Arizona Coyotes’ public apology.  The choice is now ours. Do we accept the apology and move on? Or do we tell ourselves that bullying, and supporting a bully, is always an unforgivable offense?

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