This is not about one being better than another, this is about programming standards. There are many standards that can be applied to any and all languages. I would certainly not say perl has proved its worth OVER any other language. I as a programmer have a toolbox of languages and techniques to call upon. Perl is a valuable tool in that box.
This is one of the first lessons I picked up in a Perl coder rich environment: Perl is not wholly a scripting language and not entirely a programming language. As a result it doesn't sit entirely in the idiom of either. You will concede that the coding philosophies for these two differ?
I would be interested in hearing what differences you percieve between the two languages. Larry has his own opinions He feels that the difference is meaningless and I agree.
I am upset by the slanderous comment about side effects, if I removed the return from the line of code you've quoted and relied on the fact that Perl returns the value of last item used in the sub-routine, then that would be a sort of side-effect (I prefer to call them features).
Side effects Have specific meaning have a look at Referential Transarancy Avoid side effects in general to improve the resiliance of your code. It is general and good advice IMHO and has nothing to do with perl in specific. It is CERTAINLY not slander, I can only assume you did not understand my comment.