Your argument seems reasonable, And I completely agree with you on that Perl not being used for new projects part. I have noticed that too.
For Perl to not go down the awk way, it must be used for more than throw away scripting. And most importantly in new projects. From what I've seen and heard across the industry, the mood is use Perl if and only if there is no way out and never for a new project. If new projects don't get written then students and newbies feel no need to learn it and thats how slowly things become irrelevant.
Perception management is important, some things get sold just by word of mouth of advertising. A lot of it is due to buzz. Frequent mention of Django and Ruby on rails on forums like reddit/HN/Stackoverflow is more than sufficient to convince clueless programmers that Ruby and Python are good even if they are not. They just go by the advertising and when they visit their websites, shiny stuff and beautiful GUI's only strengthen their beliefs.
The issue is Perl doesn't even get a mention these days, thats how bad things are at the moment.