... for me the OSR was/is basically about two things: (1) historical curiosity about what these games actually said as texts and how this did or did not show up in play, and (2) a strong desire to "find freedom" from a lot of modern-day prescriptive rules BS by returning to an earlier generation of designâ€“i.e., the Old School still had something to teach us. (Again, this is my own POV. Other people can be into the OSR for other reasons, among them the fact that D&D is a pretty fun game.)So, he's not attacking the OSR, and therefore I'm not attacking him.
But I wouldn't have even made the post yesterday if it were not for an insight I had when trying to figure out why he thought "nobody ever played this game [1st edition AD&D] 'by the book,'" essentially invalidated the OSR, even if only for himself.
The distinction, I realized as I read James N's comment, is: if you start playing AD&D now, or back in the day, completely fresh campaign, and try to stick as close to rules as possible, AD&D is going to seem very prescriptive. However, back in the day, many of us weren't starting with a fresh AD&D campaign and a dedication to playing the game as written to find out its secrets; we were upgrading our OD&D, Holmes, or B/X campaigns to AD&D, and discarding stuff that didn't fit what we wanted to do.
There were those who did play AD&D as written, back in the day. These possibly make up the bulk of the "we never stopped playing" AD&D crowd, which you may notice is often just as anti-OSR as 3e and 4e defenders. They are often still all about "rules as written".
James N. is certainly aware of OD&D, of B/X, of BECMI, but I think he perceived them and AD&D as distinct games that ought to be appreciated as themselves, which is frequently not the way the rest of the OSR perceived them. We often talk about different games, different playstyles that existed right from the start. We rarely talk about how, for many of us, game changes weren't clean breaks or reboots, but smooth transitions.