The idea behind any StackExchange site is to build the ultimate resource on a given topic. Just like StackOverflow, with which it all began, we eventually want to cover all questions that are on-topic, even those already answered elsewhere. Just because an answer to a question is right there shouting at you from the first Google result, doesn't mean we don't welcome that question on our site. In fact, quite the opposite: we want to be that first Google result. This has been stated by Jeff and Joel a zillion times, and there are tons of related reading on the meta Meta, e.g.:
That being said, I do agree with Shinto Sherlock that that particular comment by JohnFx speaks volumes. I don't like it at all. However, I have to ask myself: what if that comment wasn't there? Would that question belong on our site? And the answer is a definite "yes". I won't upvote that question, but I won't vote to close it, either.
Look, I am pretty confident that nohat knew perfectly well what the difference between "lay" and "lie" is and what "akin to" means before he asked those questions, and he certainly knows how to google. But none of that renders his questions "pointless" in the slightest.
Now, if some user just started posting "what is the etymology of 'cab'", "what is the etymology of 'cabalist'", "what is the etymology of 'cabaret'" and so forth, that would be pretty blatant rep whoring — and I'm not sure how we would go about handling it —, but thankfully I don't see that happening just yet. Most importantly, though, if this site will survive long enough, and if it is to survive for long, we will end up having all of these questions anyway.
StackOverflow is now full of questions such as "what is the difference between = and ==", which make many people cry in pain, but nobody argues that they are off-topic. Similarly, one day we will have to answer the question "What is the origin of the word 'origin'?", and many people will cry in pain, but no amount of crying will make the question pointless.