I attended a Scala unconference a few years back, and in casual conversation politely asked him about how one would do continuous deployment with his framework. He flipped out at me, considering the very notion illegitimate, and was enough of an ass about it that several people came up to me and apologized later. He didn't, though, and as far as I know nobody called him out on it.
It seemed like a classic abusive dad/enabling family thing, and definitely deflated a lot of the excitement that the unconference built up for me. Having worked for financial traders, I've been yelled at by people much better at being domineering assholes. I've also learned that my price for dealing with that nonsense is very, very high.
So yeah, I'll be using more than a grain of salt on this one.
As a committer, I've seen the original interactions that David refers to in that public ML thread in the private committers list, and the reactions are reasonable. Naftoli contributed good code, but bad karma. David is less tolerant of that than other maintainers might be, but every person varies in their tolerance of such things, and the result is indeed a more harmonious community.
You can see my own full response to the original ban and its reasoning as the second to last post in the thread posted by gp.
Imho, he is a burden to the Scala community, probably even more so than Jon Harrop (to the F# community), so it's kind of disappointing that he is still here.
I don't recommend Lift to anyone solely based on DPP's continued involvement.
Also, Naftoli won the "Happy Lift'r Prize" about a year ago:
Regardless, it's a personal fight that probably doesn't belong on HN.
Edit: Sorry jfarmer, I see you said pretty much the same thing regarding HN.
I wouldn't want to be the one auditing every piece of code from someone who is "banned" either -- it only takes a few lines to insert a backdoor.