A vote of no confidence in the Drupal Association leadership

Published on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 07:42

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.

and

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).

Comments

Submitted by Er Galvão Abbott (not verified) on Sat, 2017-03-25 - 02:48 Permalink

+1

Let people live their private lives

Submitted by Christian Meilinger (not verified) on Sat, 2017-03-25 - 21:02 Permalink

I understand that my DA membership fees are also used to pay for board meetings. The board is just following what Dries demands, so no real democracy on the DA board.
I'm NOT paying for bullying. Since the DA bullied Mortendk out of the board two years ago I was suspicious of the actions of the DA board. Now, it is enough! If Dries and his apparent marionettes don't follow the code of conduct and correct their action, I'm sorry to have to stop my DA membership this year, i.e. I'll not renew my membership in September.
Dries has had his time, but ever again people wich have gained such great power ower time of good work, start to get blind and to misuse it.
The Drupal community itself is a really welcoming comunity, I myself only got into contact with it by several Austrian Drupalistas in Kopenhagen in 2010 during the DrupalCon. So, it was especially disheartening for me to learn, that it was an Austrian, Klaus Purer, who started the bullying.
Thus, I need to deeply ask to apologize that it was started here, so many Austrians are shining examples of community members. I thought Klaus was one of them, but I am now deeply disappointed and shocked by his actions.
In September you can look for yourself how nice and welcoming the other Austrians are, when you come to visit the DrupalCon Vienna.
I need to stop this now to regain my self-composure. There is a vague hope, that either Dries stops or the community emancipates itself from its founder and brings new and fresh values. Otherwise this CMS might have been already on the zenit of its popularity.
My best wishes to Larry also from this posting,
Christian.

Submitted by UnknownTerritory (not verified) on Sun, 2017-03-26 - 21:20 Permalink

After reading much of the available data, I believe the crux of this story is the Gorean culture. Those that downplay it as a "kink" do not portray it fairly. It is not just a kink for many of its members and, self-admitedly, for Crell as well, but rather a way of life. For these Goreans, what is lived by others as a fantasy – by definition temporary – becomes a life style, backed by a "philosophy"/cult based on unacceptable ideas of "natural roles/order".

This whole story is a sad event, and it is likely that the actions taken by the DA and Dries could have been shaped differently, but I am now convinced that the Drupal community had indeed to dissociate itself from such practices and ideologies.

Lots of sexual kinks are taken further than the bedroom, that is not unique to Gor.

More troubling, though, is your proclamation that these are unacceptable ideas.

This is totalitarian language. This is the very exact definition of what in “1984” is called “thought crime”, and what got you sent to the Gulags under socialist regimes.

There's no degrees when it comes to freedom of thought. Either people are allowed to hold whatever crazy ideas in their heads they want to, or we are not free at all.

In any sort of just community, people can only be judged by their actions. If Larry has committed any misdeeds, we can judge him for those. If not, the Drupal Association has done him a great injustice.

Submitted by UnknownTerritory (not verified) on Mon, 2017-03-27 - 16:12 Permalink

Please note I didn't say the ideas were illegal in themselves, just unacceptable. Some ideas can be and are unacceptable in some contexts. Like teaching creationism as the scientific truth about our history in the context of a classroom, in particular a science classroom. People get justifiably fired for such "ideas" (or we should hope they would).

There's also a difference between "crazy ideas in their heads" and the promotion of such ideas as a "philosophy", which then becomes an action, just like teaching creationism as truth in a classroom. But even if said teacher had not actually thought it in the context of a classroom, knowing that they had promoted such ideas as truth in another forum would be reason enough for a university to fire said "science teacher". Any group is entitled to want to dissociate themselves of ideas that do not match their values, specially when a representative or high figure within the group is the one promoting them, and that's what is happening here.

Once more, however, you are downplaying Gor as a kink. One thing is to play slave/master games, another is to hold someone as a slave in permanence. That is illegal for a good reason, as it violates the basic rights of the "slave". Even if it is consensual as such contracts are illegal too.

Submitted by mikl on Mon, 2017-03-27 - 21:19

In reply to by UnknownTerritory (not verified)

Permalink

Please note I didn't say the ideas were illegal in themselves, just unacceptable.

I didn’t claim you did. We’re not discussing whether Larry should be jailed for his views (which I hope you agree that he shouldn’t), we are discussing whether it’s just for the Drupal Association to punish him and undermine his livelihood.

Like teaching creationism as the scientific truth about our history in the context of a classroom, in particular a science classroom. People get justifiably fired for such "ideas" (or we should hope they would)

Teaching is not an idea. Teaching is an action. Stating the obvious here.

There's also a difference between "crazy ideas in their heads" and the promotion of such ideas as a "philosophy"

Obviously. Promoting something is an action.

But even if said teacher had not actually thought it in the context of a classroom, knowing that they had promoted such ideas as truth in another forum would be reason enough for a university to fire said "science teacher".

Now this is where we go off the rails. A school (or any other employer) is not entitled to dictate what someone does or says privately. They are not entitled to wiretap a teachers phone, or stalk them on closed forums, and should they happen to hear of how drunk a teacher was at a private party, they cannot fire them for it.

And we’re not a school. We are a community of adults, who can think for themselves. We understand that there’s a difference between the personal and the professional spheres.

And moreover, we are a community that prides itself on tolerance. If we were some religious group, I’d understand where the bigotry would come from. But here, it’s just plain unacceptable.

Any group is entitled to want to dissociate themselves of ideas that do not match their values, specially when a representative or high figure within the group is the one promoting them, and that's what is happening here.

No, that's not all what’s happening here. Larry has been “in the closet” about his proclivities, and has not promoted them publicly. He’s been a high profile member of the Drupal community for over a decade without this coming to light.

And yes, Dries has the power to throw people out. He could also decide that he doesn’t want gays or transpeople in his community, and start telling everyone of those persuasions to leave the community, and he would (at least in some jurisdictions) be within his legal rights to do so. That doesn't make it any less morally repugnant.

Hence our outrage at him thought policing Larry.

Once more, however, you are downplaying Gor as a kink.

I’m not evaluating Gor as a kink. I was just pointing out that the fact that it is a lifestyle does not disqualify it from being a kink, since other sexual orientations also affect lifestyle.

One thing is to play slave/master games, another is to hold someone as a slave in permanence. That is illegal for a good reason, as it violates the basic rights of the "slave". Even if it is consensual as such contracts are illegal too.

That’s a very different discussion. Yes, obviously you cannot legally own slaves in any civilised country. No matter what silly things someone writes on a piece of paper, someone will not legally be a slave. Writing such a document it, by itself, not illegal, since it can be argued to be part of their role-playing lifestyle.

In any case, if Larry has actually done something illegal, that is not a matter for you, me or Dries to adjudicate, but for the court system to sort out.

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on Tue, 2017-03-28 - 17:09 Permalink

+1

Submitted by ShelLuser (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-30 - 13:48 Permalink

For the record: I am not involved with the Drupal community but after reading about this on The Register I'm honestly disgusted with the display of intolerance, hypocrisy and bullying. As such I felt I had to speak up a bit as well.

Just want to add my vote, even though I'm perfectly aware that it has little value because of the above. But yeah... This is not a community I want to get associated with; it seems to me they're only tolerant when they have to, not because they want to.

Careful if you're a gay or lesbian, because the very moment the government states that there's something wrong with that then you can be certain that these Drupal dimwits (no offense intended to those not involved with this bullying) will be the first to (re)enforce such views of intolerance again. For the greater good and all, of course.

I wonder what's next. I'm a vivid Minecraft player, and at an age of 46. Surely there must be something wrong with me, right? Can I still be taken seriously?

Submitted by bert boerland (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-30 - 19:36 Permalink

read my response on the data back in 2013 (https://assoc.drupal.org/comment/5968#comment-5968)

I was criticized, ridiculized and yet right in so many ways wrt the financial mess of the DA, "The DA spend more on stamps (!) then on hardware for the Drupal websites in 2013."

Not that any-one in the DA said sorry. Not to me, but to the community.

"an organisation that has been taught for several years to overspend, on purpose. It is luxury to have a big staff, bigger than your income might justify. And hence, ceteris paribus, this luxury has to end someday."

Sad to see. Even after the layoffs, still losing money. Our self acclaimed "heart of the community".

There’s been plenty of warnings about the DA over the years. But somehow, no matter how badly they screw up, Dries and his board is still pretty much the same people as they were ages ago, and since the board mostly elects itself, there's nothing we can do about it.

Being the Drupal Association apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.

Submitted by Luke (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-31 - 12:05 Permalink

There has been a massive amount oversite from Dries and the DA, they yet have to provide any real evidence that their decision was justified.

The community is clearly not in agreement! And Dries recuses himself? WTF Dries grow a pair and man up!

Given the evidence I've seen, I am not in favour for dismissing Crell.

I can't speak for the community and each person should do as they see fit. As for me, I am suspending my Drupal commitments as of right now. That means no bug fixes to contrib or core, no meetup groups, no conferences, no DA membership ... basically no contribution.

Submitted by Wendy (not verified) on Sun, 2017-07-09 - 17:32 Permalink

Now you know who's Dries

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