"[F]ree verse abandons the important characteristics that have been established and that strongly distinguish poetry as poetry in the first place. When you take away poetic patterns of meter, and rhyme, you assimilate poetry much to prose and plain speech."
In poetry, the argument by appeal to tradition actually makes more sense than usual. When women began to use ether to assist with management of pain in childbirth, there was a wide cry of reaction against it, initially on the grounds that it hadn't been done before; then later because women's suffering during childbirth was supposed to be their punishment for the loss of paradise.
The general hue and cry subsided, if I remember my sixth grade research paper correctly, only after Queen Victoria made a point of using ether to aid in the delivery of her children.
The number one cause of hospital death for women during much of the 19th century was Childbed Fever. The cause? The doctors loved their authority symbol coats that never seemed to get washed, and the doctors never seemed to get around to washing their hands. They scoffed at the guy who pointed this out, and ran him out of the profession. Semmelweiss, I believe his name was, Ignaz Semmelweiss. They'd always worn their coats, they'd never had to wash their hands before; obviously Semmelweiss was a dangerous quack and had to go.
In cases like this, so far away from the subject at hand, the relationship of tradition and truth is a bit easier to look at; we don't have anything to defend. I've stacked the deck using examples absurdly favorable to the notion that tradition is a threat to a rational examination of reality. That's because I'm being a weasel here. The truth is that it could go either way, and that you have to examine each new proposition on its own merits.
Even, as I said to start off with, that with poetry there's a good case for not throwing tradition out. I wouldn't. But Essorant is suggesting that with free verse we're going through a process we haven't gone through before in poetry, and I respectfully disagree with him.
The poetry the Greeks had was very different than the poetry the Romans had. The poetry of the Romans was very different from that of the Anglo-Saxons. The poetry of the Norman-French was different from that of the emerging middle-english, and so on. A good case can be made that the contempt of people today who write "formal" verse directed toward those who write "free verse" is no different than that expressed across any of these other cultural gulfs. Two exceptions apply. The contempt is slightly more distasteful because we have to deal with it. And, contradicting myself in virtually the same breath, because there is an even more awesome gulf opening between practitioners of "other kinds of verse and "L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E POETRY."
The original Greek poetry was bardic. It was oral. It was in meter to be accompanied by music as an aide memoire. It was memorized verse, and it wasn't written down for hundreds of years. Homer was like that.
Think of the revolution between poetry that was composed out loud and memorized, and revised by endless recitation into some sort of final form and poetry that was written down. Can you image the mud-slinging that went along with that shift? People who didn't have a muse inside them to guide them versus the improvisers, who did? or the people with a decent memory versus those who needed a crib sheet? HA!
By the time a Latin literature started to develop, there was a similar pool of bad blood there too. Essorant, you're far more scholar than I am. You'd be the first to tell me where the word Barbarian came from. You know what an inferiority complex the Romans had about Greek poetry, and how every Roman with pretensions to culture and to poetry had to be fluent. And how that still wasn't enough. It took centuries before Latin had a respectable literature (in its own eyes) of its own.
The same thing has happened at every cultural turn and twist, when a language has emerged or reinvented itself. This contempt for the future is tired and predictable. In time, all these past movements get clumped together into one revered mass called the tradition. The new one will eventually be added to it. The contempt in the meantime is sad and tired, and it's been going on for thousands of years to no good point.