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BDSM sex rocks Drupal world: Top dev banished for sci-fi hanky-panky

Gor blimey, guvnor!

A prominent contributor to the open source Drupal content management system has been asked to distance himself from project because "his belief system is inconsistent with [the] project's goals."

The beliefs at issue involve participation in the BDSM and Gorean (NSFW) communities, the latter involving people interested in recreating the culture of male dominance and female sexual servitude depicted in John Norman's poorly regarded Gor sci-fi novels.

But because the conflict appears to be a matter of ideas rather than deeds – there are no public allegations of wrongdoing or harm – the Drupal project's leadership has come under fire for intolerance.

Larry Garfield, citing a whisper campaign about his personal life, last week attempted to explain the situation in a blog post.

"In recent months knowledge of my personal life has 'leaked,' and turned into a FUD campaign against me that has now reached Drupal's leadership," Garfield wrote. "Therefore, I feel I have no alternative but to lay out who and what I am, and express my utter disgust with the way many in this community have behaved toward me."

Garfield says that he believes someone chanced across his profile on a private, registration-gated website for people interested in alternative lifestyles and, being offended, took screenshots of a seven-year-old post to impugn his character.

That information, Garfield says, made it to Drupal's Community Working Group (CWG), which concluded there was no code of conduct violation.

Garfield says another Drupal developer, Klaus Purer, subsequently confronted him and allegedly took it upon himself to review Garfield's online history. Purer's alleged antagonism escalated to involve Drupal project lead Dries Buytaert and Drupal Association executive director Megan Sanicki.

But Garfield found no support there.

Summarizing the controversy, Garfield said, "a group of people decided that they didn't like my personal life. They don't approve of Gor, and so feel it appropriate to talk about me behind my back, violate my privacy, threaten me, bully me, and run me out of the project. And they may have succeeded."

In a blog post, Buytaert defended the decision to expel Garfield. Despite his observation that "it's not for me to judge the choices anyone makes in their private life or what beliefs they subscribe to," and that "I also don't take any offense to the role-playing activities or sexual preferences of Larry's alternative lifestyle," he nonetheless said, "I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes [Gorean] philosophy," because he believes in gender equality.

Buytaert suggests Garfield has omitted some relevant facts, but does not offer support for that claim. "While I will not share the evidence that I believe would validate the decision that I made for reasons of liability and confidentiality, I will say that I did not make the decision based on the information or beliefs conveyed in Larry's blog post," he said.

Garfield's banishment has elicited considerable support in the form of dozens of sympathetic responses to his post. Comments on Buytaert's post likewise question Garfield's treatment, though there are a few people who agree with his decision, even in the absence of evidence.

In a separate blog post, Mikkel Høgh, a long time Drupal contributor, criticized the Drupal Association for condemning Garfield for his private life and for going after the victim rather than the person bullying him. Høgh charges that the Drupal Association is punishing Garfield not for something he's done, but for words spoken in private.

"Dries and the Drupal Association [have] thus decided to act as the thought police," Høgh said. "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."

Purer, Buytaert, and Sanicki did not respond to requests for comment. ®

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