I agree with you that the crest release is not all bad and absolutely has its place, particularly when it's executed correctly. And I don't agree with the posters who blame it for a host of equitation ills -- misuse of it, or sole reliance on it to exclusion of anything else, yes.
No one equated it with grabbing the mane; I referenced Littaeur's progression of releases which is grabbing the mane, to crest release, to automatic release. Littaeur, Gordon Wright and Morris all also believed there was a progression within the crest release as well - the more beginnery short release to the closer to automatic and advanced long release.
As far as Medal/Maclay riders, to George and the OPs point, does anybody seriously believe that these riders *need* to crest release? That they need the support of the horse's neck? No, that's just silly. They use it because they can't get pinned if they don't, but I'm hoping that that will change in years to come.
Allison, that top photo is a great example of a *true* crest release. Your hands are low enough that they're actually resting/taking some support from the horse's neck; an excellent idea for a fence with some spread. I can't imagine anyone, included GM, would quibble with it.
Truthfully, in the second photo, you've dropped your hand down and forward, but are still taking a little support from the neck. Appropriate, and along the line of the *progression* that Littaeur, Wright and Morris originally envisioned.
In my avatar photo, I'm using a modified crest release. One of the reasons I like that photo is because of the release. Anybody think I'm perching, posing, jumping ahead or using too short reins?
The criticism is most oftern directed at the phony crest release that you see all over the hunter ring (sorry, ohsaree) - riders with hands 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the neck, floating above the mane, taking no support from the neck, and with a wildly exaggerated broken line from bit to elbow. These are the riders that George wants to drop their hands down towards an automatic release since clearly they don't need support from the neck.