The announcement of the Code of Conduct changes (now deleted, alternative link) had a score of -1922 (with 2371 downvotes). I can't remember a change announcement being received so negatively (this post isn't really an announcement). Other announcements like We're testing advertisements across the network and the older A New Code License: The MIT, this time with Attribution Required have scores in the same order of magnitude right now as I'm writing it, but I fear this is far from the end. The last major Code of Conduct changes were published as a blog but the announcements (1, 2) were positively received, even though there was/is a lot of critique on the Welcome Wagon.
What are the (main) reasons that the current changes are received so negatively? And how could/should Stack Exchange improve to make sure such major changes are received better in the future? As a professional trainer of mine likes to proclaim "People can and want to change, but they don't want to be changed." Or, does it even matter that the current sentiment is the way it is, as long as the company is (feeling that it is) doing the Right Thing™? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and those are often unpopular.
I'll try to outline some of the possible reasons (and improvements) in answers, but I hope other users will write something about other reasons I'm not familiar enough with (e.g. compelled speech, or punishing the company for the way they treated Monica). Note: I'm not trying to take a stance here (though it's obviously hard to be 100% objective in this case); as always on Meta, a neutral tone is preferred.