What is gained by such pronouncements? Except in extreme cases involving terrible crimes (murder, torture, mass killings, etc.), running around morally judging and condemning people is entirely pointless. Nothing is gained except the resentment of the condemned. Indeed, if anything, such moralistic grandstanding, by antagonizing potentially dangerous people, only puts oneself at greater risk. If you really think a person is "evil," the last thing you want to do is give that person a reason to resent you. By all means, warn your friends and loved one; be on guard against him; but don't antagonize through the use of morally charged rhetoric.
Not only does pronouncing moral judgment potentially harm the pronouncer, it hardly ever does anything for the person judged and condemned. When a person is condemned morally, they either shrug it off or become defensive and hostile. They hardly ever agree with their condemner. When was the last time you heard someone who had just been morally condemned say, "You know what—you're right, I am evil. I'm going to punish myself by dangling my organism by its testicles from the nearest lamppost"?
What makes Rand's moralizing particularly senseless and irrational is the triviality of its occasions. Rand and her orthodox followers have made a specialty of morally judging those they disagree with. So it's not merely what a person does that is important. An individual may be entirely inoffensive—never harmed anyone in his life. But if he occasionally indulges in some rather odd speculations, he deserves to be morally judged! So if he spends his spare hours trying to bend spoons with his mind, or indulges hopes of reincarnation, or recounts past lives, or is fascinated by the art of Jackson Pollock, or enjoys muddling his way through Hegel and Bradley while whistling to himself Schoenbergian tone rows, or has the epistemological temerity, like most Americans, to believe in God—if he does any of these things he could very well be a candidate for averse moral judgment. That, in any case, is the verdict Peikoff's infamous "Fact and Value" essay. To be sure, Peikoff, following Rand, admits the possibility of "honest errors of knowledge."
But such errors are not nearly so common as some people wish to think, especially in the field of philosophy [he insists]. In our century, there have been countless mass movements dedicated to inherently dishonest ideas—e.g., Nazism, Communism, non-objective art, non-Aristotelian logic, egalitarianism, nihilism, the pragmatist cult of compromise, the Shirley MacLaine types, who "channel" with ghosts and recount their previous lives; etc. In all such cases, the ideas are not merely false; in one form or another, they represent an explicit rebellion against reason and reality (and, therefore, against man and values). If the conscientious attempt to perceive reality by the use of one's mind is the essence of honesty, no such rebellion can qualify as "honest."
This is not very good reasoning. An idea cannot be inherently dishonest: only people can be dishonest. And it is not at all clear that anyone who holds false ideas, even obnoxiously false ideas such as Nazism and communism, must ipso facto be dishonest. Indeed, there are good reasons to believe that intellectual honesty has little to do with the ideas people hold. Most people really have no idea what it means to be intellectually honest. They engage in fatuous speculations quite innocently, without having a clue at how far they have wandered off the cognitive straight and narrow. Intellectual honesty requires an intelligent commitment to empirical criticism, experimentation, fact-checking, and openness to criticism, all of which are lacking, not merely with the human race in general, but within the folds of orthodox Objectivism as well, which uses ideas, not as symbols to interpret and gain insight into reality, but as shields to seal themselves up within the ideological constructs of Ayn Rand. How else can we explain Peikoff's strange descent into Harriman's anti-science physics? or his unwillingness to reform the Objectivist epistemology in the light of evidence brought forth by the Cognitive Revolution?