What I've learned:
Obviously, I take SO too seriously and I don't always act in its best interest. For every useful answer or question I've contributed, I've fired off two community Wiki this or God, your statistics suck or not programming related or any other of the cornucopia of community cop bullshit that really detracts from my (and others') experience.
Nerds like us are very hardheaded people, and we will stand our ground on an opinion. I haven't learned yet to know when to let go of my side, and concede. I've gotten in enough arguments on SO to know that this shouldn't be how I contribute, and I've actually been thinking about it since this whole affair.
This time, it bit me, which I probably needed. The loss of rep was worth that, in itself.
Going forward, this learning experience will hopefully remind me that it's just a question site for God's sake. The StackOverflow Police Force is already doing fine on its own, and I don't need to make things any
better worse. I am still relatively new to an (granted, relatively new but) established community forum, and my opinion of best practices for it do not necessarily mesh with what's really best for it.
That said, I think the cops in the community are an implicit response to the site being treated with a "everyone should know how to behave on a forum like this, we're all professionals" -- the sad side of that is that not everyone is a professional, and I feel some in the community may feel that they have to rise to the occasion and keep SO clean. I'm not sure what can be done about that frivolous attitude, but I think given SO's size an attention to policy might be important at this point (FAQ and favorited questions on meta only go so far). I don't see a lot of "that's against the rules," I see a lot of "I don't feel like that's important," or "this should happen"...and that can't last, in my opinion. I really don't think that will scale.
I think there's a crowd psychology element at play here, given the lack of commandments set in stone. The entire site is driven, policed, and maintained by opinions (am I wrong?).
Anyway, I'm gutting the original question because it's been resolved, but I hope that a few cops will learn from my experience, relax, and learn.
I take offense with the user Mask on StackOverflow. Here's why.