Since my last post Dries and Megan have issued a new joint statement on the ongoing mystery regarding my removal from DrupalCon and the gossip campaign against me. To date, I have focused my public posts mainly on my experiences, my beliefs, and the prejudice with which I have been treated by select members of the Drupal community and by select (if powerful) members of Drupal's leadership. However, I feel the latest joint post from Dries and Megan last Friday deserves a more direct response.
Some commenters noted that it doesn't add anything or reveal any additional information. I disagree. It makes implications and innuendo that are sufficiently untrue that I fear, if they have not crossed the line into libel, they certainly teeter on the precipice.
As I mentioned last week, a number of people claimed this whole situation was "my fault" for not doing a better job of "hiding" my private life. That attitude is victim blaming, adds nothing to the conversation, and misses the point that this information was gathered and used illegally.
Ironically, I've now had a few people claim this whole situation is "my fault" for not being more out about my private life. Once again, this misses the whole point. This is the world we live in, apparently; if someone else doesn't like your private life, it's your fault either way. What a world we've built.
Regarding available information
First, the post from Dries and Megan is 1955 words long, but amazingly, says almost nothing new. If you read the comments, you’ll see I am not the first to note that. However, it contains many misleading inaccuracies that, as far as I can tell, serve only to muddy the waters and create an issue that did not exist before. It is largely these inaccuracies I aim to address here.
The post implies that the "information" considered included "some of Larry's online interactions, both on and off Drupal.org". In the information provided by the Community Working Group (CWG) to both me and the Board, however, there is no Drupal.org interaction listed at all. The only off-Drupal.org "interaction" mentioned that was not part of the CWG's "mediation" process was from the original individual who reported my private life to the CWG, who now, in hindsight, was upset that I had brought my autistic housemate to Midcamp.
It's also worth noting that on 3 February 2017 I asked the CWG for copies of what excerpts of my private posts they had as of then. I asked them again on 25 February, after my call with Dries. I was not provided with any such information until 27 February, a mere two hours before I received Megan's email dismissing me from the track chair position and DrupalCon engagements. Even that information was incomplete, as it included only a screenshot and two non-Drupal links. The packet I received for the Board meeting (after action had already been taken against me) included the out-of-context excerpts Klaus had shared with me, an additional excerpt that Klaus had dug up after speaking with me (which I'd not seen before), and anonymized copies of emails to the CWG from three individuals (one of them being Klaus) which included the very first mention of my autistic housemate. At this point there still were no excerpts from anything from Drupal.org.
That leaves two possibilities:
- The CWG and/or the Board and/or Dries had/has damning evidence of actions I’ve taken in violation of the CoC, actively withheld that information from me over the course of several months, and issued a statement stating clearly that I had not violated the Code of Conduct, but is still committed to withholding the information as they won't even tell me what supposed evidence they have or are accusing me of.
- Megan and Dries are making misleading and inaccurate statements now (which I list and go into below) to cover up the lack of justification for their actions.
I do not know which one is more damning.
Regarding my planned departure
Second, the post indicated that Dries decided to remove me because "Larry had indicated on several occasions that he was drawing down his involvement in the Drupal project, and that context helped inform Dries’ decision."
It is true that I mentioned to the CWG, and to Dries, that it was ironic all of this was blowing up now as I was likely going to scale back my Drupal core involvement before too long anyway (something many people have done many times). However, I did not say I was going to leave Drupal entirely any time soon; I indicated that it might happen long-term, or not. I never said or implied that there was any imminent departure planned on my part. If that were my intent, why would I have submitted sessions for DrupalCon at the beginning of February, 3 months before the conference? That wouldn't make any sense at all. Drupal is still a key part of my professional career, as is presenting at conferences, Drupal or otherwise.
That someone gives informal fair warning that they intend to "step down considerately" (as the Code of Conduct specifies one should do) from some positions in no way implies that it is appropriate to force them out of those or others, nor does it rise to the level of a complete and total removal from the project in all aspects.
Additionally, when Dries called me on 24 February he had already made up his mind to ask me to resign. That means he could not have known I was planning to scale back (but not leave) before that unless the CWG specifically told him. That means either:
- The CWG told Dries of my likely scaling back when they talked to him, despite CWG discussions supposedly being confidential, and Dries then not mentioning that to me until I told him that I had been planning to scale back late in the conversation on 24 February.
- Mentioning that in the post is purely a post-hoc justification for an action taken that did not have anything to do with it.
I do not know which one is more damning.
Third, the post states that there was "a careful, and deliberate process that has been going on since October 2016." Let's consider the timeline implications of that.
- October 2016: First report to the CWG, in which they find no Code of Conduct violation by me. They do not inform me of this fact.
- 16 November 2016: First time the CWG contacts me about there being any reports, and tell me there is no CoC violation.
- 16 January 2017: Klaus and I have a Google Hangout in which he threatens to blackmail me. I report said blackmail to the CWG the same day.
- 3 February 2017: I have a "mediation" interview with a member of the CWG. Aside from that member sending me notes to validate, I receive no further communication from the CWG.
- 24 February 2017: Dries calls me and tells me to resign. I have one brief call with a member of the CWG later the same day.
- 27 February 2017: Megan emails me to tell me I'm out from DrupalCon.
At no point in this process was there any indication that I was "under investigation". Aside from the single interview with the CWG there was no request for information from me at all. If the Board was even aware of the matter prior to my referring it to them, I did not know of it. However, when Dries spoke to me on the 24th he said quite clearly that he had not been part of any CWG conversations. That leaves two possible conclusions:
- The CWG, Dries, Megan, and the Board were having continual meetings to plan to kick me out of Drupal and actively kept it secret from both me and the DrupalCon track team (who, presumably, would have objected to me having a session picked in the first place if I were already in the process of being removed).
- The process was not “careful and deliberate”, but they must now claim that it was in order to protect the current structure and their ultimate decision on my fate.
I do not know which one is more damning.
Why was Larry removed?
This seems to be the million dollar question for many (myself included). The post from Megan and Dries implies it's because of actions I took, or reports they have about me… but they can’t talk about what the actions were, or what kind of allegation they are, or when it happened, or why it was evidently never given to the CWG to resolve, or (if it is as bad as they make it out to be) why it was never given to law enforcement to have me charged with a crime. But don’t worry, just trust that they have this evidence, which they can never speak of. That this evidence totally justifies the decision they’ve already made. A decision which they felt they needed to justify with my supposed withdrawal from the project, despite claiming that regardless of anything else, this secret evidence would, alone, justify my removal.
While a viable plot for a late night comedy show, this is the argument they are using to attack my reputation and my career, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t simply take them at their word that such evidence exists. Especially as we have the original reason direct from the source (Dries’ original, unedited blog post).
Dries' original blog post, before he edited it, stated quite clearly why he asked me to resign:
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.
First, 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.
Note the first line in particular: I've been active in Drupal for over a decade, and only now have my "private views" become "public, controversial, and disruptive to the project" despite no changes in the level of “entwining” I was supposedly doing. And they did so through no action of my own, but because of a whisper campaign behind my back which lead to the actions of others who chose to blackmail me. But now Dries needed to excommunicate me because my private life might be "disruptive". He didn't, however, go into any detail about what was so problematic about my beliefs other than talking about "equality" in the abstract, despite a decade of evidence that I actively support the same.
In his call with me, Dries said very explicitly there had been no Code of Conduct violation, as far as he knew I had done nothing illegal, and as far as he was concerned my private life was not his business even though he personally found it distasteful. Yet he was still asking me to resign because of the possible disruption to the project from someone else going public. In particular, he indicated that "someone" was threatening to go public in a matter of "days, not weeks", unless I was removed from DrupalCon.
So I see two possible conclusions:
- Dries is so personally disgusted by my (not illegal, not CoC-violating, not his business) personal life he wants to remove me from Drupal because of it, but won't just own up and say that.
- Dries was mostly afraid of my blackmailer making good on his threats to go public and what the bad PR would be, caved, and now refuses to admit that he was in the wrong.
I do not know which one is more damning.
With regards to the individual or individuals who "participated in gathering information about [my] private life", the post claims "The Community Working Group is currently handling this situation through their standard process." This seems odd given that, regardless of the CWG decision, Dries evidently has the authority to unilaterally remove the offender(s), but has not done so despite agreeing that what they did was a violation of the CoC and likely a crime.
Given that I reported the blackmail attempt to the CWG in mid-January and it is now April and I have heard nothing but a single "mediation" interview, in addition to the innumerable process fails listed above (which even the post from Dries and Megan admit), I must confess that I have little faith in the "standard process", whatever that is.
The post from Dries and Megan also implies that there were to be many more "discussions" between Dries and I, and that I somehow cut it short by going public about the fact that I was being blackmailed. That is a grossly disingenuous statement.
In the very first communication I had from Dries on 24 February, he made it very clear that he wanted me to resign and wouldn't take no for an answer, yet “no” was the only answer I would give. There was no indication of plans for further discussion, other than him ending with "let's talk again soon".
In the only communication I received from Megan, on 27 February, she informed me of my removal from presenting at DrupalCon "given [my] recent discussions with Dries", with no further explanation or even implication of more communications were to come.
That did not in any way indicate a potential for "a number of conversations to resolve any remaining concerns". It was an ultimatum, and the end of a conversation. There was no further discussion to be had. Yet the post accuses me of "effectively ending the process in the middle of what we expected to be a series of constructive discussions" when I posted my initial self-outing post. However:
- I had discussed self-outing with members of the CWG on multiple occasions since January
- I had told Dries on 24 February that I was considering self-outing precisely as a way to undermine blackmail
- In my written statement to the Board on 16 March (which Dries would have read) I made it explicitly clear that I intended to self-out as a way to minimize the public damage to my reputation, regardless of the board's decision
- Dries emailed me after the Board meeting (on 19 March) to encourage me to not self-out, but held firm on my prompt departure from Drupal
- On 19 March, I invited the CWG to review my self-outing post before publishing in order to verify that it would not, itself, violate the Code of Conduct
That I was going to self-out was not a surprise to anyone, and at no point was it expressed that there were conversations to be had that didn't begin and end with me leaving and giving in to blackmail.
I see two possible interpretations:
- Dries and Megan intended to have a series of conversations with me to try and convince me to leave quietly and give in to blackmail, but failed to actually tell me this, even after they were aware of the self-outing post I was going to publish, and instead opened with an ultimatum.
- They had no such intention and are ret-coning events.
I do not know which one is more damning.
The olive branch
From the post:
After Larry’s second blog post, on Tuesday, March 28th, he reached out privately to Dries to discuss how to resolve matters and find the best way forward.
We remain committed to working on closure for this situation with care and respect for everyone involved. Dries and the Community Working Group hope to have a private discussion with Larry in the coming weeks.
It's true, I did email Dries on the 28th. Given some of the comments I'd seen of people losing contracts because customers disapproved of the way Drupal's leadership was treating people, I felt it important to try and de-escalate the situation. I have no desire to harm Drupal, simply to protect my good name and make it clear that blackmail is an unacceptable form of persuasion. I therefore offered a specific, detailed proposal that protected both my name and reputation and his, and reduced my involvement in Drupal while still not interfering with my career.
Dries did not respond to my email until several days later, immediately prior to the joint 31 March post going live. In his e-mailed response he completely ignored my proposal and instead doubled-down on the "series of follow-up conversations" position and said he wanted to talk "in a couple of weeks after the dust has settled, we all had a chance to clear our head, and think about how we want to best organize this." That, to me, reads as a very clear "can we please sweep this under the rug, then talk later about how we've already forced you out of Drupal."
No. No we cannot.
So what does Larry want?
A few people have asked me what it is I want, and what I hoped to accomplish by going public. A fair question. My goal has been, and remains, to defend my name, reputation, and honor against blackmail and libel, from anyone.
There has been wild talk of a Drupal fork, of reorganizing the Drupal Association, of people resigning, and so forth. I have no interest in such discussion, nor interest in a Drupal fork. My goal is not to split or harm Drupal, nor anyone in it. My goal is entirely defending my reputation and putting a stop to blackmail and libel.
For what it's worth, Dries, my offer is still on the table.