You've got a point there, and I don't think you and the NutterButterMegaholic are all that opposed.
To use NutMeg's metaphor, pressing the gas pedal on her car makes the car go. Pressing it on a friends makes the horn honk. Obviously a dangerous change of purpose for this element. But gas pedals used to be just slick medal. Now they are ergonomically curved and coated in ribbed rubber for easy grip.
The element has been modified to enhance its purpose, and that is a *good thing*.
Let's look at the text area. The purpose of a textarea is to fit a lot of text in a small amount of space with a scrollable window. If we want the user to acknowledge he or she has read the chunk of text by clicking a link that must be scrolled to within the textarea, have we altered the purpose of the textarea? I say we haven't.
We haven't changed its purpose, we haven't changed how it works. I'd say we have enhanced it's purpose.
But, making a pulldown <select> menu move to a page on release rather than on submit does change how that element works, and so is a dangerous change.
Like everything, no black and white. And I think respect for HTML elements doesn't mean stasis.
MegaNutatron, do you disagree?