Followers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy have a reputation for being very hostile to anyone who disagrees with them on any philosophical issues. Rand herself showed this hostility on a number of occasions. This would seem to be strange behavior on the part of people who claim to be advocates of reason above all else, but it very often happens.
A question I’ve considered for a long time is whether this is a flaw in the philosophy or simply a personality trait that’s filtered down to her followers. Her personality was certainly a factor, but if that were all there was to it, they should have calmed down over the years. However, the treatment of the Institute for Objectivist Studies (now the Atlas Society) by the Ayn Rand Institute not too many years ago exhibited lots of vitriol, and I haven’t seen any indications of change since then.
I think the key is in the way Rand and many of her followers approach philosophy, rather than its particular content. You might think of this as a matter of meta-philosophical premises. Rand held that her philosophy had to be accepted or rejected as an integrated whole, that rejecting any part of it meant rejecting it as a philosophy. This makes for a very fragile edifice; knock out any part of it and the whole thing collapses. It’s no wonder that people who think that way react to any dispute as a fundamental threat.
A related premise is the persistent attribution of “hidden premises” to opponents. Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged does this repeatedly: “The purpose of your struggle is not to know, not to grasp or name or hear the things I shall now state to your hearing: that yours is the Morality of Death.” “But you know the unadmitted answer, refusing to acknowledge what you see, what hidden premise moves your world.” “There is no honest revolt again reason — and when you accept any part of their creed, your motive is to get away with something your reason would not permit you to attempt.” If opposing views are the product of hidden evil, any consideration you give them could be a sign of corruption on your own part.
There is huge value in Rand’s philosophy, but these problems in the meta-philosophical approach have very often kept it from being taken as seriously as it deserves. There are people who approach it without this baggage, but they suffer the additional burden of being denounced by the orthodox. It looked for a while as if the IOS / Atlas Society would bring about a shift in the public understanding of Objectivism, but it has shifted its focus away from addressing basic philosophical issues to focusing on current issues and popular culture, and so isn’t doing nearly as much as it could. Something more is needed.