Drupal, one of the web’s leading content platforms, is facing an internal crisis following the removal of one of its developers over ideological differences.
The leadership at the organization banned senior contributor Larry Garfield for having views contrary to progressive orthodoxy, citing what he did in his private life as an excuse to remove him.
Facing widespread protests from other developers who demanded his reinstitution, Drupal’s leadership repeatedly changed their justification for removing him, each time garnering widespread condemnation from the development community.
On the web, Drupal, is one of several popular content management systems that are used to power websites. It’s estimated to provide a framework for as much as 2.2 percent of all websites worldwide, including The White House, and the BBC. The platform is maintained by a community of open-source developers who contribute their work to the project for nothing more than attribution.
The project has been engulfed in controversy after Garfield was unceremoniously removed from his position as one of its leading developers. He had become the target of progressives who alleged that his personal life was an affront to their views on inclusivity and diversity.
Dries Buytaert, the CTO of Acquia and Drupal trademark owner, explained that Garfield’s views were “in opposition to the values of the Drupal project.”
According to Breitbart, Garfield’s private kinks were used against him after he was outed by another contributor named Klaus Purer, who found Garfield’s postings on FetLife, a private BDSM forum. His private postings were later tied to his public identity and used as a reason to oust him from the organization.
At the time, Buytaert stated in a post that after the senior developer’s private life was brought to his attention, he couldn’t “in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy” like Garfield’s interest in BDSM.
It was later apparent that the decision to attack Garfield based on his private sex life only came after high-ranking members within the organization of a leftist bent compiled a dossier on his political statements, which were not in line with social justice ideology.
Nathaniel Catchpole, a member of Drupal’s Core Development Team and a proud, self-proclaimed communist, created the 17-page dossier in an effort to oust Garfield from the organization with the assistance of other contributors.
Drupal’s involvement in Garfield’s private life has taken an even more bizarre turn, as Drupal Association’s Megan Sanicki and Dries Buytaert are now claiming that Garfield may have been in a “relationship” of some sort with an “acutely autistic” mute woman. They claim that they have “legal concerns about her ability to give informed consent,” and that they suspended him over these concerns.
These concerns were only brought up after every other excuse used to remove him from his position was exhausted.
Garfield was forced to respond to their accusations with a post that included a police report from 2014, admitting that while he had lived with an autistic woman, the couple were subject to an anonymous complaint that prompted the authorities to perform a “wellness check” on the woman. Garfield says that the police concluded that the two of them were being “targeted for harassment by an unknown party.”
Sanicki and Buytaert conclude their blog post to state that the reason they’re now removing him is because his attempts to defend himself in the face of destructive allegations “harmed the community and had a material impact on the Drupal Association.”
The issue remains ongoing as many members of Drupal Association are now speaking up in defense of Garfield, and remain highly critical of its leadership’s decision to terminate his position.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter.