Over at Monsters and Manuals, Noisms boggles at the "irrational hatred" of the Second Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, which he sees as a form of "intellectual perversity." I largely agree with him that most of the scorn heaped upon 2e has very little to do with its rules, which are, by my lights, insufficiently different from those of 1e to matter to most players. Likewise, 2e is supremely backward compatible; with a few exceptions, nearly everything in 1e products can be used with 2e without much difficulty. So, quibbles aside, from a purely mechanical standpoint, 2e isn't an objectively bad game. I happen to prefer some of the baroque curlicues of 1e, but not enough that I could logically argue their superiority over the simplifications that replaced them.
That said, I still don't find 2e to my liking. Taking only the core rulebooks -- the entirety of the 2e line is another matter and one, I think, much more objectively worthy of derision -- I find myself thinking thoughts similar to those I have about Tom Moldvay's Basic Rules. 2e is an extremely clear, well-designed game that adopted a broader but blander palette of "colors" in the pursuit of mass market sales and popularity. This resulted not in a bad game but in one that feels "hollow," like the house of a deceased personage of importance that, while still an impressive piece of architecture in its own right -- and one probably more accessible to outsiders now that the old guy is safely in the grave -- is devoid of its animating principle.
Of course, that's exactly what 2e was: Gygax-less AD&D. The extent to which one dislikes 2e, I suspect, has a lot to do with how much Gygax one likes in one's D&D. Me, I prefer heaping helpings of it, as I've said elsewhere. But if you found the Dungeon Master a bit annoying, his purple prose embarrassing, and disliked seeing his eccentricities elevated to Holy Writ, you probably see 2e as a "better" version of 1e. I find the notion of a "better AD&D" tautologous; we already have the best AD&D possible and it's the one I have sitting on a shelf right above my computer as I write this entry. However, not everyone feels that way. For a variety of reasons, some valid, some vapid, 1e isn't and never will be the best possible version of AD&D for all players. It's an opinion I find hard to credit myself, but I do understand the sentiment that animates it, because it's probably not unlike the sentiment I feel when I boggle at some of the dislike for AD&D's excesses I hear OD&Ders complain about.
Gary Gygax casts a very long shadow over the came he co-created. For good or for ill, his presence lingers even still. I think it next to impossible to understand the history of this hobby without understanding Gary and the influence he wielded. So many of the debates and controversies that still plague the hobby are echoes of those in which Gygax was involved in the past. His thoughts, opinions, and decisions are still very much alive. Alfred North Whitehead famously said that "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." In a similar fashion, the RPG tradition consists of a series of footnotes to Gygax.