Mikkel Høgh

Coding the web since 1999

23 Mar 2017

A vote of no confidence in the Drupal Association leadership

I have had many differences with the Drupal Association in the past, starting with the many clashes we had with their erstwhile leadership when we were organising DrupalCon Copenhagen 2010, so I’ll admit I wasn’t their biggest fan before the latest events.

Yesterday evening, I learned that the DA leadership, led by Dries Buytaert himself, has taken upon themselves to declare one of Drupal’s most well-known (and well-loved) community members, Larry Garfield, “persona non grata”, because they disapprove of things he does in his private life. You can read his own explanation, but suffice to say that he likes to engage in BDSM-related practises with consenting adults.

He’s kept this a secret, since many do not approve or understand such things. I will not claim to understand such myself, but I am of the firm opinion, that as long as people don’t involve unwilling or unwitting participants in them, their private lives are none of my (or anyone else’s) business.

To say that condemning someone for their sexual orientation is against the stated values of the Drupal community would be the understatement of the year. For years, the community has been striving to become more inclusive, implementing a strict Code of Conduct, that states:

Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Drupal. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners.


We will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any member of the Drupal community.

If spreading rumors about someone’s private affairs isn’t bullying and harassment, I don’t know what is. But in this instance, the DA has chosen to punish the victim, rather than the bully.

The bully

If Larry’s words are to be believed (we have no reason not to, especially since his accusers are not denying them), this campaign against him has involved a good amount of cyber-stalking, breach of privacy and trust, harassment, and spreading of malicious rumors. But the person committing said deeds has not been sanctioned.

I shall not name said person here, but I shall say that I despise his actions here, and (as the ancient curse goes), I wish that his hindquarters may itch, and his arms be too short to scratch it.

The thought police response

Dries replies, in a post ironically titled “Living our values”:

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.

and furthermore

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.

Not only is the latter a gross misrepresentation of what Larry’s views are, it is also completely false that Larry has been promoting said philosophy, in the context of the Drupal community. And what he does, privately, elsewhere is not for the Drupal community to adjudicate. On the contrary, he’s taken care to keep said philosophy completely separate from his work in the Drupal community.

So he’s being punished, not for something he’s done, but for the words he’s shared privately, with people who share his world view.

Dries, and the Drupal Association has thus decided to act as the thought police. They will determine which opinions you are not allowed to have, and regardless of your actions, if they come to know of your naughty thoughts, by any and all means, you too will be banned.

The message is clear. If you have any kind of unsavoury thought, better hope Dries and his watchful arbiters do not learn of it, because if they do, you’ll be branded as outcast for your heretical thoughts.

Maybe its time to step down, Dries?

You have presided over a great many things as Drupal Association chairman, Dries. Financial mismanagement of several Drupal events that cost the DA dearly. The subsequent cover-up of said mismanagement. Many smaller controversies.

A great many things have gone wrong, and it’s been my impression that the DA could do with some more oversight. Maybe it’s time we found a chairman who’s less busy with running a big corporation, and is maybe not so concerned with regulating people’s thoughts, and a little more concerned with providing proper oversight for the important organisation that it is: a truly open and welcoming community, that’s open to anyone, no matter what they do and think in private.

(Comments are moderated here, but mainly to prevent spam. I will publish any comment, critical or not, as long as it lives up to the spirit of the Code of Conduct).