Ayn Rand’s Praise for a Rapist/Killer

A heartwarming Ayn Rand story:

Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.”

(via PoorMoJo)


  1. If you’ve read her books, or about her books in any depth, this will be totally unsurprising. To me, her praise of a real rapist is less disturbing than her glorification of her fictional ones – at best, praising a real rapist is showing, tactlessly, that she approves of people who don’t care about rules, whereas glorifying fictional ones is pretty much outright praising rape itself. She could have had her own characters buck society in other ways.

  2. Has she ever been raped herself? From what I’ve read she hasn’t. But if she ever was then should that rapist should expect nothing but praise?

  3. Well, let me take a shot at defending Ayn Rand.

    Essentially, she was praising that the man represented some rebellion against conventional thinking. I read her words and she doesn’t say “Rape is good” or anything like it. Rather, she is fascinated with his zealous selfish pursuit of his own desires.

    Now, you probably don’t think selfishness is a virtue, but Ayn Rand certainly does. The headline is much catchier to say Ayn Rand is praising a rapist/killer, but it implies she is praising the nominative aspect of the rapist killer. That is, that he rapes and kills, as an end in itself. However, in fact she is praising it only as a means to the end of her objectivist philosophy, without a moral judgment one way or the other on his actions themselves. You could likewise see her praise a titan of industry for the same abstracted character traits (hey, maybe she’s written a book on that!).

    She’s just so deluded by her own uncompromising philosophy that she sees it even in the rapist/killer. Not really all that objectionable, since most abstract ideas result in disturbing logical conclusions at the extreme (though few people actually avoid hypocrisy and confront them straight on).

    Also, if you’ve read Atlas Shrugged, you’d know she has some sexual kinks involving “take charge” kind of men. So I’d probably just read this as a Penthouse letter-cum-philosophical-treatise.

    1. so your argument is “its ok, she isn’t praising the rape and dismemberment of a 12 year old girl as an ends, just a means”

  4. For what its worth, Rand explicitly rejected her early Nietzchean views and argued frequently that selfishness entails no sacrifices at all–neither you to others nor others to you. Fountainhead’s Gail Wynand was intended as an embodiment of this kind of mentality and he is ultimately damned by Rand as a corruption.

    I’ll admit that this quote is a win for anyone trying to smear Rand, but it is quite counter to the philosophy she is actually known for.

    1. No, it is entirely in keeping with her philosophy. She may have *claimed* that Selfishness is a virtue, but claiming is doesn’t make it so. Her entire defense of selfishness is simply apologetics for her own personality flaws, as her own life story amply illustrates.

      Her “philosophy” is as shallow as were her emotions. And considering how her attitude towards science was that science had to be wrong if it conflicted with Objectivism (as her attitude towards Evolution, Quantum Mechanics and Relativity shows), I find it hard to believe that any skeptic would want to come anywhere close to defending her.

  5. Eh, a quick wikipedia search shows that apparently Rand wanted “a Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy.”

    Not defending Objectivism at all, but it doesn’t appear as if she was trying to say what the guy did was good by any means.

    1. Her conception of the Ideal Man is essentially that of a Psychopath. Her defense of Hickman is that he was precisely that: a psychopath. She doesn’t really defend the crime, because to her the crime is nothing. She glorifies his psychopathy. And in that, she justifies every imaginable crime in the name of her Ideal Psychopath.
      Based on her arguments, it would be easy, even necessary to justify Hitler…

      1. You take an extra step in logic by saying that Hickman represents her ideal man. Hickman’s ideas about independence and “one verse all” mimicked and inspired Rand. Where did he become her ideal man as you say?

        Also glad you went even one beyond that by invoking Reductio ad Hitlerum / Godwin’s Law.

        There are many things to dislike about Ayn Rand, her philosophy, and her followers. To me, this Hickman thing is not one

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