This issue goes back to at least 2004, when I got my first Nikon DSLR, a D70. In the D70 manual, it says:
The low-pass filter is extremely delicate and easily damaged. Nikon recommends that filter be cleaned only by Nikon-authorized service personnel.
Should you choose to clean the filter yourself, follow the steps below.
1 Raise the mirror as described in steps 1–4 on the preceding page.
2 Remove dust and lint from the filter with a blower. Do not use a blower-brush, as the bristles could damage the filter. Dirt that can not be removed with a blower can only be removed by Nikon-authorized service personnel. Under no circumstances should you touch or wipe the filter.
No doubt earlier Nikon DSLRs had similar warnings, although I have no first-hand knowledge of that.
That language is still present, nearly unchanged, in the D7000 manual. So, you see, people's angst about sensor cleaning isn't something they made up; it comes directly from their user's manual, where Nikon tells them the low-pass filter is extremely delicate and recommends (strongly, I would say) that only Nikon service personnel should clean it.