Well I think the only reason it is tolerated is that it is pretty low level. Personally only one of my sites is a tech one, where use will be much higher, and most of the general population don't tend to use anything above blocking pops.
If it did rise then you can be sure search engines, browser makers, ISPs, datacenters and even webmasters would all soon wade in as it would undermine a big chunk of the web. I reckon general use would never be allowed to get as high as with some tech audiences. It would either be paywalls or technical means to block blockers or even pressure on browser makers to ban them.
I don't need to change our revenue model to make money. However, I don't think they should be reading what we publish while floating through their imagined web utopia. After all if the content is not good enough to be read with an advert then why read it at all.
If more sites do what ars did then I think it would be a healthy thing and maybe even open some eyes. We are not powerless in this by any means.