It's been an eventful couple of days, that's for sure... Eventful enough that I feel it's necessary to clarify a few points.
First off, I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone that has reached out, in public or in private, to express their support in this situation. I genuinely appreciate it, even if I haven't had a chance to respond to everyone directly. Thank you all.
I'm especially gratified to hear from those people, particularly women, with whom I have worked most closely over the years in Drupal. Even people I've not talked to in a while, whether we got along or not, have voiced that I’m anything but a misogynist, and to state anything to the contrary is simply wrong.
A handful of people have taken me up on my offer to talk privately if they have concerns, and I thank them for doing so. It seemed that our conversations made them much more comfortable and OK with who I am and that I am no threat to them, or at least that's the impression I got. Again, thank you to those who took the time to talk to me.
I have also heard from numerous people, mostly in private, who contacted me to talk about their own "unconventional views or activities". Some are similar to mine, others entirely different, but a common thread is that many of them now feel very, very scared. Scared of what people would do to them if their non-Drupal lives or beliefs were revealed. Scared of what other "unwritten values" they may be violating because a few people in leadership don't like them. That makes me very, very sad. I hope that in time Drupal's leadership will realize that this is no way to run a tolerant community.
Still, there have been a number of assumptions made and comments offered that I feel warrant additional reply, moreso than just inline in a thread somewhere. For that reason I want to highlight a few points here.
Who did what now?
There's some confusion about who in Drupal's leadership took what actions, so let me clarify.
The Community Working Groups (CWG) fielded a number of reports in October/November about stuff I had posted on a private forum outside of Drupal. Later reports, after people started digging, included other information, including my dating profile. They informed me of their existence a month or so after the initial report. In all of their communication with me and and others to which I am privy, they have not found any violation of the Code of Conduct on my part. Their "mediation" attempt between Klaus and I in January consisted of a single interview with both of us, followed by radio-silence until Dries contacted me. I did, however, express to them my main concern was the rumor chain reaching Drupal's leadership, or conference organizers, without my knowledge and my getting blackballed without even knowing it or being able to respond.
Dries, from what I understand, was first informed, without my knowledge, of the matter in early February, by the CWG. Dries' first communication with me was at the end of February, in which he was very clear he had already made up his mind that I needed to leave Drupal, and he first asked, then instructed, me to do so. Dries contacted me again shortly after the Board decision to offer to help me leave quietly by talking to "those that know". I firmly declined both times, as doing so would be to slink away like a coward and let blackmail and a whisper campaign destroy my good name behind me. That is not something I could ever do.
Megan, from what I understand, was first informed of the matter in early November, even before I was, although by a member of the DA staff, not by the CWG. I do not know which member of staff, nor who had brought the matter to them. The first and only contact I had from her was 3 days after I first spoke to Dries, informing me that "per [my] conversation with Dries" I had been removed as a track chair and speaker for DrupalCon Baltimore. I do not know to what degree if any Dries and Megan coordinated their actions and decisions, but her comment suggests it was collaborative. Strictly speaking it was that decision that I appealed to the Board of Directors, and the Board declined to overturn it without any further explanation. I cannot speculate as to their reasoning, but would welcome clarification on their part.
I discussed the possibility of going public and "outing" myself with multiple members of the CWG at different times. It is not a decision I take lightly, and I realize that it may have negative implications for my career due to prejudice in various circles. However, with a whisper campaign painting me as a raving misogynist out to enslave all women (false), based on out of context fragments pulled from a non-public site, in which only one person was willing to talk to me directly and that person did so in order to blackmail me, I had little alternative.
Given that Dries was insistent on my leaving Drupal out the back door, regardless of the harm that would cause to me and to Drupal's public image, and did not show any inclination to discuss otherwise, I had little alternative.
Reputation is critical in our profession. Hell, in our society. My professional career has been built on Drupal, and public presentations have been a key part of my professional activities. I cannot allow my reputation and livelihood to be attacked behind my back without any ability to respond. That would be untenable.
The value of diversity
In my previous post I talked about the value of diversity, and why I like the Drupal community. A heterogeneous group brings different perspectives to the table, even if they're heterogenous about topics other than what's specifically on the table.
In the Drupal and PHP communities, I know:
- Pro-South/Confederacy advocates (reference to the US Civil War, for the non-Americans)
- Anti-vaxers, or at least people sympathetic to anti-vaxers
- Trump voters
- Concealed-carry gun advocates
I disagree with the above beliefs, positions, and affiliations. Some I don't even respect. In some cases I've engaged those people in lively debate. In others, we get along swimmingly because we both know to avoid certain topics. All of them are still productive and constructive members of the community and I count many of them as friends.
Many of them have likely discussed those opinions online somewhere, or even at Drupal events in social settings. Should that exclude them from Drupal? No, I don't believe it should. Drupal needs no ideological litmus tests beyond "can you treat people with respect" and "do you want to make Drupal better".
Regarding my former housemate
A number of people, presumably from in and around Chicago, have commented about a woman who accompanied me to some Drupal events in the area. One of the messages to the CWG that was shared with me mentioned her as well, although I left her out of my earlier post to protect her privacy. I've contacted her and gotten her permission to say this much, however.
The woman in question is acutely autistic. As part of that she is mute (she's physically capable of speech but chooses not to speak), but still communicates very well in writing and online chat. We both learned ASL in order to communicate better with each other. She also has severe social anxiety disorder which means she is extremely shy and introverted, desiring human contact with only one person at a time. Those with Autism tend to fixate on a particular topic or idea, and hers is on a specific person, specifically in the context of D/s relationship. That's been who she is for her entire life.
Why exactly she has that fixation I couldn't say. We discussed it at length with both of the autism therapists I took her to see, both of whom were fully aware of all her details and saw no issue, but I am not at liberty to discuss those sessions, obviously. However, her particular condition means there are very few people who are able to effectively act as caretakers for her, and a few years ago, when she needed a new place to live, I was one of those people and available, so accepted her into my house. (I had recently bought a house with ample space for her to have her own room.)
She is very intelligent and curious and was interested in programming, so after she took a free online coding course I allowed her to help me with some small Drupal core patches. Her shyness, however, prevented her from posting any issues in her own name, so we abandoned that endeavour. She still wanted to learn, though, so I brought her along to a number of Drupal and tech conferences in the Chicago area. "Help a mentally handicapped woman learn about Drupal" is a concept I believed most Drupalers would be 1000% on board with, and for the most part I was correct. We were very open about her autism (at her request, her logic being "I'm not broken, just autistic"), but of course didn't mention the D/s part because, well, that's nobody else's business.
About a year ago ago she moved in with someone else I know, and from everything I've seen is quite happy.
He should have hid it better
A few people have commented that it's somehow my fault for not keeping my private life more private.
First: The level of victim blaming in that sentiment is remarkable. If your privacy is violated it's your own fault for not being more private? Isn't that what we (rightly) eviscerate the GamerGate crowd for saying when someone leaks naked pictures of yet another celebrity?
Second: I've been involved in the Gorean community since 2002. I've been involved in Drupal since 2005. It took until late 2016 for anyone to realize I was in both. Moreover, from what I understand from the CWG the first "leak" was someone on that alt-lifestyle private forum who found my account there, screenshotted it, and started passing it around. I'd say I've done as good a job of "hiding" or, as I see it, keeping these aspects of my life as separate as can be expected without being dishonest with myself and others.
But again, that presupposes that I need to hide. That presupposes "you are an evil and bad person, but that was OK as long as we didn’t know it."
Tell my gay brother that he needs to do a better job of hiding being gay. Tell my Iraqi friend that she needs to do a better job of hiding being from Iraq. Tell them that it's their fault if someone decides they're not welcome because they didn't hide their nature or beliefs well enough.
A couple of people have fixated on the low number of women speaking in the PHP track for DrupalCon in the past year, the track for which I am (was) one of the two chairs, as "proof" that I am trying to exclude women. I acknowledged the poor female speaker ratio in that track in my previous post. However, as noted in public responses by my former co-chairs, by women speakers in the PHP community, and by a former DrupalCon content team lead:
- Session selection is a collaborative process involving 2-3 chairs per track, and reviewed by the entire 20-odd person selection committee. The ability for any one person to exclude a class of people is tiny.
- Extremely few women submit sessions for the PHP track in the first place. For Baltimore, there were zero.
- A key goal for the PHP track is to bring in speakers from outside the Drupal community, so that is where we've always focused our session recruiting efforts.
- I and others have reached out to women in the PHP community who I know are excellent speakers to invite them to submit sessions. Most decline to even submit.
- The number one reason given is that DrupalCon doesn't cover speaker travel costs (most PHP conferences do), which makes the conference cost-prohibitive. That is one of the reasons I have repeatedly raised the issue of speaker travel costs with the DrupalCon leadership team.
- There was some internal discussion amongst the content team about having a special travel fund to help "diverse" speakers (non-white-males, basically) attend the conference. I supported that move.
Remember that I was also a global track chair for the Core Conversations track from 2011 through 2016. I went back to check the DrupalCon sites to see how many sessions had a woman speaking. (In case there were multiple speakers I counted if any one of them was a woman; several sessions were more than one woman, others included both men and women. I excluded the regular "Dries Q&A" session even if a woman was listed as a co-presenter, since it was usually either Dries or a committer panel. I counted that as a Core Conversation session, however.) Here's what I found:
- DrupalCon New Orleans 2016: 4/13 sessions
- DrupalCon Los Angeles 2015: 5/13 sessions
- DrupalCon Barcelona 2015: 5/13 sessions
- DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014: 4/12 sessions
- DrupalCon Austin 2014: 2/13 sessions
- DrupalCon Prague 2013: 4/13 sessions
- DrupalCon Portland 2013: 5/13 sessions
With one exception, very consistently about 1/3 of sessions were presented by women. Compare that to the general attendance of DrupalCon, which is usually around 20% women. That is, women made up a larger percentage of speakers in my track than attendees generally.
If my goal were to exclude women from speaking, I did a really shitty job of it. (Tip: No, I never had any such goal; quite the opposite.)
After my last post, both Dries and Megan have issued public statements defending their positions and asserting that there are "reasons" for their actions, which they stand by, but can't discuss due to privacy concerns. This has led to several people to speculate that there must be some more nefarious action on my part that is being covered up, some even telling me directly to "do the honorable thing and come clean." Some have even accused me of "omitting details".
Frankly, if I had any idea what they were talking about I would address it.
As part of the Board review of my DrupalCon dismissal I was provided with the same Board packet that Board members received. That included all of the information that the CWG provided to the Board, and I was and given the opportunity to respond to it in writing, which I did at length. (The injustice of being forced to justify your private life to group of colleagues is a topic for another time.)
The information I was provided with consisted of:
- A screencap of a post I made on the aforementioned private form 7 years ago, at a wedding after-ceremony for D/s friends for a group of D/s attendees.
- A copy of a statement I made to the CWG regarding the laws in various jurisdictions regarding blackmail, harassment, etc. that I believed were being violated
- A number of reports and emails the CWG had received, all of them stating issue with things I had written elsewhere, but not actions I had taken. All names but mine were redacted.
- Excerpts (usually portions of longer posts presented without context) from various other posts I'd made on the private forum, along with "commentary" from the reporter.
- Excerpts from my dating profile site, mixing my text with that of the site, along with "commentary" from the reporter.
- A link to a Meetup event where I had people over to my house for dinner.
- A link to a different alt-lifestyle forum where I'd not been active in 2 years that, I had not realized, has publicly-listed profiles.
- Observations that I do things like say "Be well" or shoulder-applaud in public
If there is more, I don't know about it. Of note: None of the above is about any actions I've taken against anyone. At no point have I harassed, abused, coerced, or otherwise harmed anyone I've met or worked with. The CWG's statement just this week stated "[w]e initially found that there were no Code of Conduct violations by Larry", and nothing I have seen or received from them since has stated otherwise.
If there were some other "secret" evil action of mine, I presume the CWG would know about it, and would have informed me what it was, or even acknowledged its existence. They haven't.
I contacted Dries and Megan Friday morning (24 March) to ask what other information they had, or to confirm there isn't anything I don't know about. As of the time this was published, they have not responded.
If there is anyone that feels I have wronged them, harmed them, or otherwise mistreated them, no one has told me about it, even anonymized.
Quite frankly, for Dries and Megan to imply that I've violated someone or something in some way without saying what, just giving vague suggestions of "privacy", is borderline libelous. The only privacy that has been or is at risk of being damaged is my own.
In fact, as other commenters have pointed out Dries' and Megan's posts are contradictory. Per Dries:
"he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project."
Yet per Megan:
"We want to be clear that the decision to remove Larry's DrupalCon session and track chair role was not because of his private life or personal beliefs.... Our decision was based on confidential information conveyed in private by many sources."
So... which is it? Dries wants me out of Drupal because of my "values", while Megan wants me out of DrupalCon because of, er, something else that she won't say but is so bad we won't even tell Larry what it is? That doesn't compute.
Fear of Gor
Rather, as far as I have seen the issue is not about anything I've done, because I've done nothing. It's a fear of what I may think, because of my association with the Gorean community.
Insert comments about "guilt by association" here.
As I noted before, Gor is a science fiction series. Most of the information online is total crap. There are many people that roleplay Gor on Second Life and elsewhere, so information online tends to be a mismash of role play sites, book indexes, or stuff written by non-Goreans talking about Goreans.
As far as philosophy goes, the books are argument by hyperbole and parable. No one rational takes them as a precise prescription for how to organize a society, including the author. Even in the fictional world of the books, only a very small minority of the population are slaves.
You'll also find the occasional "safari piece" about Gor from some online publication, where the author decides to find some crackpot abuser who throws Gorean terms around and use that as a jumping off point to point at the weirdos in the corner to show how enlightened he and the reader are for not being like them.
Yes, there are crackpot abusers who call themselves Gorean. The problem is not that they call themselves Gorean, but the fact that they're abusers. There are also Muslim terrorists in the world. The problem being that they are "terrorists", not "Muslim". There's also Baptist abusers, but we don't say all Baptists are therefore abusers.
The most common concern I have seen is that there is no consent in a Gorean relationship, which is a blatant falsehood. All of the parties consent. If someone no longer consents then the relationship ends. The difference with Gor is that the consent being given is for one partner to lead and the other take a supporting role. When disagreements happen, they're consenting to address them in a respectful, adult manner. Consent and communication are cornerstones of any healthy relationship, Gorean or otherwise.
Of course, in all of this few people who want me out have bothered to actually, you know, ask me what my beliefs are. They're extrapolating based on fragments they read out of context, provided by someone who is trying to blackmail me, without actually asking me for input or clarification or explanation. Klaus did, but chose not to listen, and instead yelled at me that I'm abusing people he's never met. As I mentioned above, a few people have reached out to me privately to ask for clarification in the last few days, and I'd like to think they came away satisfied with my answers.
So, let's go there. What are these supposedly evil things Larry believes?
Larry, do you really think women are inferior to men?
No, I do not.
Larry, do you really think all women are supposed to serve men as slaves?
No, I do not.
Do you believe it's wrong for a woman to have authority over a man?
No, I do not. You're quoting the Christian Bible, not me.
I voted for women for President, Senate, Congress, and State House in the last US election, and not for the first time.
I've spent a majority of my career working for women, directly or indirectly. Many projects I've been involved with had women as tech leads. I had no issue.
But don't the Gor books say lots of anti-women things?
Yes, the do. They're argument by hyperbole, not to be taken literally. Even the author says as much.
The Torah, Bible, and Quran say lots of anti-women things, too. Most followers of those books don’t take them literally either. There are religious people who are misogynist pigs. Yet it wouldn't even occur to us to exclude someone who says "I'm a Christian", unless they personally took actions that were abusive or derogatory.
But, you said slave!
Yes, I did. Consensual power exchange communities, at least in the US, have been using the terms “Master” and “slave” for more than twice as long as I've been alive. I didn't pick it.
No, there is not even a little bit of similarity between consensual power exchange relationships and the horrific abuse that unfortunately still happens in too much of the world today.
"Slavery", as the word is used by Goreans and others in M/s relationships is, from a legal perspective, a consensual simulation at best. It's a cultural affectation. There is no actual coercion or force involved. In the ideal case it is a deeply loving, symbiotic relationship, not an exploitive one.
So wait, what do you believe?
I believe there are no significant differences between populations or genders relating to aptitude. I put no stock whatsoever in "girls can't do X" type statements, especially in tech. I have worked with far too many damned good women software developers and managers to believe otherwise.
I believe everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, and from their employers and co-workers. And that treatment had damned well better be respectful and supportive.
I believe that no statement about human nature is universal. Humans are just too complicated a species.
I believe that diverse collaborative groups are better than monocultural ones. That is, diverse along many axes: sex, race, age, educational background, religious background (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, family status, relationship status... anything that affects a person's experiences and/or thought processes.
I believe that as long as a relationship is entered into, and maintained, with informed consent from all parties to all activities in the relationship, it is by default morally acceptable. I may not be interested in it, I may be made uncomfortable by it, I may not like it, but it's not my place to call it "wrong". Nor is it yours.
I believe that a relationship that lacks the informed consent from all parties is by default morally unacceptable.
I believe that human psychology is shaped in part by evolution, and that does impact the sexes. Men and women have, on average, differences in their neurology that can impact personality. (For information on how this affects children, it has been suggested Boys by Daniel J. Hodgins is a good resource.) These are averages, and trends across a population only and say nothing about an individual person. For example, men are, on average, taller than women but there are men and women of almost every conceivable height. Men, on average, have greater upper body strength that women yet there are plenty of women that could easily bench-press me.
I believe if I wish to discuss a fictional book series, philosophy, unconventional relationships, or whatever else with friends and acquaintances on a forum dedicated to that purpose, I have the right to do so without prejudice and discrimination. And so do you.
I believe that everyone should strive to reach their full potential and maximize whatever skills they have, regardless of their background. I believe it is my duty as a fellow human being to help others do so to the extent I am able. I believe this statement to be a very Gorean attitude.
I believe that full potential is different for different people, and in different areas. People are not all equal in skill, aptitude, inclination, or desire. That's OK. (There are plenty of areas where my skills are not even worth mentioning.) Everyone still deserves the right to try and reach and to improve and better themselves.
I believe that those differences in skill do not correlate to any of the usual things people try to discriminate on, and it's asinine to try and use them as justification for discrimination.
I believe the above statements to be fully compatible with identifying as Gorean.
I believe none of the above is contradictory with Drupal's published values, or unstated values.
I have seen a few people argue that matters like this are why Codes of Conduct are bad. I disagree. It's not the Code of Conduct that's being used against me. In fact, the CWG has stated publicly that I have not violated the CoC.
I took a while to warm up to CoCs, I admit, but at this point I am largely in favor of them, as long as they're well-written. Like any other tool they can be done well or poorly and used for good or ill, but by and large I support them. Drupal's is pretty good. Please do not use this situation as an argument against CoCs, as I do not believe that is accurate.
I've also seen a few people tweet that they're going to look elsewhere for CMS software. Please don't do that just on my account. Drupal is still a solid piece of web software, as much as it was a week ago. Based on the messages and tweets I've gotten, most of the community is just as horrified at this situation as I am.
To those who have reached out to me in public or in private to offer their support and to say "be well", I thank you. Be well, Drupal.