And other than the connector itself a Lightning headphone is worse in every way, [...] I guess this lets them use a little extra power but there was already more than enough output to damage your ears.
Noise cancelling headphones/earphones need power and have their own batteries. Some for those with mics in for making calls without removing them, or where they use a DSP to, hopefully, improve the sound of imperfect drivers. With lightning they can use the phone's battery.
That said, they could have done the same over a backward-compatible 3.5mm jack if they'd wanted to.
"do these phones work with other things? do other phones work with this?" easily dominate that area.
When they started talking about "courage" in the keynote, I got a little excited that maybe, just maybe, they meant they were couragously opening up Lightning for their competitors to use and make it a universal standard.. But no. That would have been courage, imho.