In June 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided five “obscenity” cases, ruling that government may ban books and movies when “the average person, applying contemporary community standards,” would find that the work, “taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” In this recorded lecture from Boston’s Ford Hall Forum, Ayn Rand analyzes the arguments advanced by both the majority and dissenting justices, condemns the decisions as establishing the intellectual base for censorship in America, and draws out the underlying philosophical premises that unite the seemingly divided Court.

In the ensuing Q&A, Rand addresses a variety of topics including abortion, charity, poetry, the Watergate scandal, mental evasion versus mental passivity, defamation, the political status of mentally disabled individuals, open immigration, drug legalization, and the government’s power to censor the speech of military personnel.