Consider the following quote from Atlas Shrugged: "'Lillian,' he said, in an unstressed voice that did not grant her even the honor of anger, 'you are not to speak of her to me. If you ever do it again, I will answer you as I would answer a hoodlum: I will beat you up. Neither you nor anyone else is to discuss her.' (p. 530). Was Hank serious in his threat, or were these just the words he chose to emphasize how important the issue was to him? Ayn Rand's heroes tend to be very careful and literal in their word choice, but I can't imagine Hank would ever have followed through with this. As evil as Lillian was, I don't think assaulting her can be justified. What's the right interpretation of this passage?