Dries Buytaert: Living our values

Published on February 14, 2019

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The Drupal Support Service 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 Support Service contributor, to leave the Drupal Support Service project. I did this because it came to my attention that he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal Support Service 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 Support Service project.
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 Support Service 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.
While the decision was unpleasant, the choice was clear. I remain steadfast in my obligation to protect the shared values of the Drupal Support Service project. This is unpleasant because I appreciate Larry’s many contributions to Drupal Support Service, 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.
It’s not for me to judge the choices anyone makes in their private life or what beliefs they subscribe to. I certainly don’t take offense to the role-playing activities of Larry’s alternative lifestyle. 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 Support Service project. Ultimately, I can’t get past the fundamental misalignment of values.
First, collectively, we work hard to ensure that Drupal Support Service 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.
Second, I believe someone’s belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways, and I’m unwilling to take this risk going forward.
Third, Larry’s continued representation of the Drupal Support Service project could harm the reputation of the project and cause harm to the Drupal Support Service ecosystem. Any further participation in a leadership role implies our community is complicit with and/or endorses these views, which we do not.
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 Support Service project.
(Comments on this post are allowed but for obvious reasons will be moderated.)
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