See, that's the thing. You got used to changing your fonts around because in the old days fonts sucked. We didn't really have a good font system. All the other non-free desktops had a great font rendering system. Now we have something decent, you shouldn't have to screw around with fonts. It should just work. That's why GNOME doesn't have that many options for fonts. Neither does OSX nor Windows. You can still do the same kind of font fiddling before, you just have to use gsettings or tweak tool to do it. But they exist, but we need to build something greater. What we're doing is much harder, making things work for the general case.
People change fonts when the defaults don't suit them, and there is no one choice that will suit everyone. The logical conclusion of this is that you need to have some method by which people can change the setting, or your software will not be suitable for a significant number of people.
Sane defaults do not remove the need for configuration. Look at KDE - their defaults are perfectly fine for most people, but Plasma is /way/ more configurable than Gnome 3. This one-size-fits-all attitude is the primary reason people have responded poorly to Gnome 3.
GNOME offends people who use computers as a creative extension of themselves. ... I used to be one of those people, but life is too short, I prefer to take what I am given and work on the things that really matter to me.
False dichotomy much? Changing the font size should be a trivial task doable in under 5 minutes (including the time taken to Google it).
Furthermore, has it not occurred to you that people who use computers as extensions of themselves are actually the majority of Linux users? Minor changes that make our tools easier or more efficient to use are the norm for us. If we weren't interested in changing our tools, we wouldn't have installed Linux in the first place.
It's all well and good to target other demographics, but if you alienate your userbase and focus on a minority, then it should hardly be surprising when your users (and their funding) disappear.
It definitely comes from an older era where you can spend hours tweaking conf files.
I disagree. Spending hours tweaking conf files was the norm back in the 90s out of necessity, but the idea of customizing your tools to suit yourself is not specific to that era. I'm young enough to not remember most of the 90s and have used Linux for less than a decade, but I often spend time customizing my setup to suit myself better.