A few months back, I decided that I was going to learn PHP. [...] The reality that I discovered wasn't at all what I expected. Sure, there was plenty of spaghetti code out there (there's also plenty of spaghetti code in C++, Java, take your pick…), but there were also a variety of frameworks and communities devoted to using PHP to all kinds of productive ends. I was also surprised at just how much of the internet runs on PHP. I guess that something like a third of the internet up and decided to quietly not mind the haters.
He goes on to talk about a previous post of his supporting PHP and how, despite the negative comments on it, was still encouraged to learn more about the language. In his research, he came across The Right Way and was surprised and encouraged by the work and support the community is putting into it.
I think it's clear how best to respond to the group's provocation: if you're looking to make bold claims about what PHP necessarily is and isn't, don't make those claims on the basis of tutorials or blog posts written by PHP beginners. Ask people who are seasoned veterans in the language and in its corresponding best practices. They're the ones who fully understand PHP's breadth and power.