Many of the mercenary testers I encountered were motivated to scrape the system for bugs, as ridiculous as they may be. They logged them into the bug system and then defended them at all costs, as if their lives depended on it. And it turned out, they did. At least, their paychecks did. I would not be surprised to learn that App Store reviewers are working under a similar structure. A system that rewards “unique, valid rejections” would certainly explain the behavior we have seen coming to light in the past year.
This is very similar to what I keep trying to tell people: I can almost guarantee you that these inconsistencies are a result of poor communication and internal coordination among a staff of probably not-all-that-skilled reviewers (most likely contractors). My guess would be that Apple had to set up a large organization to do this reviewing very, very quickly and ended up with a bunch of people who can quickly go down a very literal laundry list of things to check, but don’t have the time, expertise, or incentive to make nuanced judgements about an app’s suitability.
I suspect that almost every complaint people have about the App Store is related to the fact that Apple set it up practically overnight by the standards of a large software project. They’re making it up as the go along, and it shows.