Living our values
The Drupal community is committed to welcome and accept all people. That includes a commitment to not discriminate against anyone based on their heritage or culture, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, and more. Being diverse has strength and as such we work hard to foster a culture of open-mindedness toward differences.
A few weeks ago, I privately asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor, to leave the Drupal project. I did this because it came to my attention that he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project.
I had hoped to avoid discussing this decision publicly out of respect for Larry's private life, but now that Larry has written about it on his blog and it is being discussed publicly, I believe I have no choice but to respond on behalf of the Drupal project.
It's not for me to judge the choices anyone makes in their private life or what beliefs they subscribe to. I also don't take any offense to the role-playing activities or sexual preferences of Larry's alternative lifestyle.
What makes this difficult to discuss, is that it is not for me to share any of the confidential information that I've received, so I won't point out the omissions in Larry's blog post. However, I can tell you that those who have reviewed Larry's writing, including me, suffered from varying degrees of shock and concern.
In the end, I fundamentally believe that all people are created equally. This belief has shaped the values that the Drupal project has held since it's early days. I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy that is contrary to this. The Gorean philosophy promoted by Larry is based on the principle that women are evolutionarily predisposed to serve men and that the natural order is for men to dominate and lead.
While the decision was unpleasant, the choice was clear. I remain steadfast in my obligation to protect the shared values of the Drupal project. This is unpleasant because I appreciate Larry's many contributions to Drupal, because this risks setting a complicated precedent, and because it involves a friend's personal life. The matter is further complicated by the fact that this information was shared by others in a manner I don't find acceptable either and will be dealt with separately.
However, when a highly-visible community member's private views become public, controversial, and disruptive for the project, I must consider the impact that his words and actions have on others and the project itself. In this case, Larry has entwined his private and professional online identities in such a way that it blurs the lines with the Drupal project. Ultimately, I can't get past the fundamental misalignment of values.
Collectively, we work hard to ensure that Drupal has a culture of diversity and inclusion. Our goal is not just to have a variety of different people within our community, but to foster an environment of connection, participation and respect. We have a lot of work to do on this and we can't afford to ignore discrepancies between the espoused views of those in leadership roles and the values of our culture. It's my opinion that any association with Larry's belief system is inconsistent with our project's goals.
It is my responsibility and obligation to act in the best interest of the project at large and to uphold our values. Decisions like this are unpleasant and disruptive, but important. It is moments like this that test our commitment to our values. We must stand up and act in ways that demonstrate these values. For these reasons, I'm asking Larry to resign from the Drupal project.
Update March 24th
After reading hundreds of responses, I wanted to make a clarifying statement. First, I made the decision to ask Larry not to participate in the Drupal project, and separately, the Drupal Association made a decision not to invite Larry to speak at DrupalCon Baltimore or serve as a track chair for it. I can only speak to my decision-making here. It's worth noting that I recused myself from the Drupal Association's decision.
Many have rightfully stated that I haven't made a clear case for the decision. When one side chooses to make their case public it creates an imbalance of information. Only knowing one side skews public opinion heavily towards the publicized viewpoint. While I will not share the evidence that I believe would validate the decision that I made for reasons of liability and confidentiality, I will say that I did not make the decision based on the information or beliefs conveyed in Larry's blog post.
Larry accurately pointed out that some of the evidence was brought forth in a manner that is not in alignment with Drupal values. This manner is being addressed with the CWG. While it's disheartening that some of our community members chose the approach they did to bring the matter regarding Larry forward, that does not change the underlying facts that informed my decision.
Update March 31st
Megan Sanicki, Drupal Association Executive Director, and myself posted a follow-up statement on Drupal.org. As with any such decisions, and especially due to the circumstances of this one, there has been controversy, misinformation and rumors, as well as healthy conversation and debate. Many people feel hurt, worried, and confused. The fact that this matter became very public and divisive greatly saddens all of us involved, especially as we can see the pain it has caused many. We want to strongly emphasize that Drupal is an open-minded and inclusive community, and we welcome people of all backgrounds. Our community's diversity is something to cherish and celebrate as well as protect. We apologize for any anxiety we caused you and reiterate that our decision was not based on anyone's sexual practices. It will take time to heal, but we want to make a start by providing insight into our decision-making, answering questions, and placing a call for improvements to our governance, conflict-resolution processes, and communication.
Update April 9th
I posted an apology for causing grief and uncertainty, especially to those in the BDSM and kink communities who felt targeted. This incident was about specific actions of a single member of our community. This was never about sexual practices or kinks.
Update April 10th
It is clear that the current governance structure of Drupal, which relies on me being the ultimate decision maker and spokesperson for difficult governance and community membership decisions, has reached its limits. It doesn't work for many in our community — and frankly, it does not work for me either. Community membership decisions shouldn't be determined by me or by me alone. I announced a framework for how we can evolve our governance model.
Update April 16th
The Community Working Group published a more complete explanation for what happened to address some of the misinformation and speculation:
We strongly reject any suggestion or assertion that Larry was asked to leave solely on the basis of his personal beliefs or what he does in his private life. If any of us had any reason to believe that was the case, we would have resigned immediately from the CWG.
(Comments on this post are allowed but for obvious reasons will be moderated.)
— Dries Buytaert
Dries Buytaert is an Open Source advocate and technology executive. More than 10,000 people are subscribed to his blog. Sign up to have new posts emailed to you or subscribe using RSS. Write to Dries Buytaert at firstname.lastname@example.org.