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Ethics in America II

My Brother’s Keeper

In a neighborhood perhaps like your own, in a family perhaps not too different from yours, individuals struggle with their college applications, with promotions at work, with the actions of their neighbors, and try to determine what to do when important values about questions of fairness, loyalty, secrets, and trust conflict.

Your son has always struggled with his writing. Now, he is up against a college application deadline, has a bad case of nerves, and is practically asking you to write the essay for him. How far would you go to help him? After you refuse to write the essay for him, he leaves to work on his own, and the next day has an essay that’s really good-too good, you fear. You suspect your son did not write it. Do you confront him? Eventually, your son confesses: his girlfriend, who is an excellent writer, wrote the essay. Not only that, but your son has already e-mailed out his college applications, including the revised essay. What now?

What if you had a different issue to confront, about the education of your youngest son, who will be entering first grade? Your neighborhood public elementary school is terrible, and you can’t afford to send your child to private school. But your employer, who lives in a wealthier neighborhood about a mile away, has a great neighborhood public school, and is willing to let you use his address to get your son into the school. Do you accept the offer, and lie to the school district about where you live?

Or, what if you had a dilemma that arose, instead, from your good fortune: Years ago, when you didn’t have a job and really needed one, your good friend Chris did everything he could to get you a job at his company. As it turned out, you had a real knack for this field, and soon you surpassed Chris at the company. Now you have an opportunity to select someone for an important promotion, and Chris is one of the candidates. Is Chris fully qualified for the position? Yes, absolutely. Is Chris actually the best candidate for the position, in your opinion? No. There’s someone better. What do you do?

While you are pondering what to do about these other dilemmas, there is a knock on the door. It is your new neighbor from across the street, who asks whether a female colleague of his can park in your driveway. You agree, but after a series of visits by this colleague, it becomes clear that your neighbor is having an affair, and that everyone on the block knows about it except his wife. Will you confront the neighbor? Tell his wife? Get involved in any way? And will this knowledge of your neighbor’s personal life affect your vote when he runs for president of your school’s PTA? Should it?


Richard Kilberg

Pamela Mason Wagner

Joan Greco

Ruth Friendly

Barbara Margolis

Mark Ganguzza

Kerry Soloway

Joey David
Jason Steneck

Ann Yoo

H. Peet Foster

Dan McKenrick

Bob Aldridge

Lisa H. Newton, Ph.D.

Rachel Ward

Marion Blakely
David Callahan
Suzanne Johnson Cook
Ahmad Corbitt
Larry Holcomb
Robert Ladenson
Claudia Mchunu
William Perez

Meet the Participants

Charles J. Ogletree (Moderator)
Anita Allen 
Elayne Bennett
Randy Cohen
Stanley Crouch
Jill Ker Conway
Barney Frank
Russell D. Moore 
Dallin H. Oaks
Vince Passaro
Denise V. Rodgers
Victoria Toensing
Charmaine Yoest
Daniel G. Zemel


Charles J. Ogletree Charles J. Ogletree
Professor of Law
Harvard Law School 
Charles Ogletree is the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law. He has published numerous law-review articles and a new book about Brownv. Board of Education entitled All Deliberate Speed. In 2005 he was honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for National Service and was presented with the Morehouse College Candle in the Dark Award in Education and Law. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is married with two grown children.

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Anita Allen Anita Allen 
Professor of Law and Philosophy
University of Pennsylvania
Author, The New Ethics
Anita Allen is a leading expert on contemporary ethics and privacy law. Her monthly newspaper column, “The Moralist,” appears in the Newark Star-Ledger. A professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, she has also been a visiting professor at Harvard, Villanova, Yale, and Princeton. Allen is the author of The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape(2004), Why Privacy Isn’t Everything: Feminist Reflections on Personal Accountability (2003), along with other books and over 75 articles and essays. She has appeared on Good Morning America20/20NightlineFace the Nation60 MinutesBurden of ProofTalk of the Nation, MSNBC, and other nationally broadcast television and radio programs. She is married and has two children.

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Elayne Bennett Elayne Bennett
President and Founder
Best Friends Foundation 
Elayne Bennett is president and founder of the Best Friends Foundation, a nationwide network of programs dedicated to the physical and emotional well-being of adolescents. The foundation promotes self-respect through the practice of self-control and provides participants the skills, guidance, and support to choose abstinence from sex until marriage and reject illegal drug and alcohol use. Her Best Friends–program research data was accepted for publication by the Journal for Adolescent and Family Health in April 2005. Due to the overwhelming demand for a boys’ program, she launched Best Men in 2000. She is a member of the Ethics, Religion, and Public Policy task force of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and is the wife of William J. Bennett and the mother of two sons.

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Randy Cohen Randy Cohen
Columnist, “The Ethicist”
The New York Times Magazine 
Randy Cohen writes the weekly column “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine, syndicated throughout the United States and Canada by the Universal Press Syndicate as “On Ethics.” He was a writer for Late Night with David Letterman for which he won three Emmy awards, and was the original head writer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show. His humor pieces have been published in the New YorkerHarper’s, and the Atlantic, among other places. He wrote “The News Quiz,” a regular column of topical comedy for The Good, the Bad and the Difference, a book based on his column, is published by Broadway Books. He is a regular contributor to Weekend All Things Considered on National Public Radio and is a divorced father of a college-aged daughter.

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Stanley Crouch Stanley Crouch
Syndicated Columnist
New York Daily News
Jazz Critic
Stanley Crouch is a critic, syndicated columnist, and novelist, perhaps best known for his jazz criticism and his novel Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome? In his syndicated column for the New York Daily News, he frequently takes on taboo subjects of African American culture. He is a fierce critic of gangsta rap music for its promotion of violence, criminal lifestyles, and degrading attitudes toward women. He is a jazz critic for and was a frequent commentator in Ken Burn’s series Jazz on PBS and was the most prominent interviewee in the recent Burns documentary about Jack Johnson, Unforgivable Blackness. He has served since 1987 as an artistic consultant at Lincoln Center and is a cofounder of the department known as Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 1993, he received both the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur Foundation grant.

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Jill Ker Conway Jill Ker Conway
Author, The Road From CoorainFormer President
Smith College
Jill Ker Conway is a visiting scholar in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society. In 1975 she became the first woman president of Smith College. A native of New South Wales, Australia, she graduated from the University of Sydney, and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her research as a historian has focused on the history of women in America, resulting in such books as The Female Experience in 18th- and 19th-Century America (1982) and Women Reformers and American Culture (1987). She has recounted her personal journey in a trio of autobiographies, The Road from Coorain (1989), True North (1994), and A Woman’s Education (2001). She serves as a trustee on several foundations and university boards as well as on corporate boards such as Nike, Merrill Lynch, and Colgate-Palmolive. In 1962, she married John Conway, who remained her husband until his death in 1995.

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Barney Frank Barney Frank
U.S. Congressman (D-MA) 
Barney Frank is a member of the United States House of Representatives. He is a Democrat and has represented the 4th District of Massachusetts since 1981. Frank is the most prominent openly gay politician in the United States. He was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, and was educated at Harvard College. In 1968 he became chief assistant to the mayor of Boston. While in state and local government, Frank taught part-time at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Boston University. He has published numerous articles on politics and public affairs, including Speaking Frankly in 1992.

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Russell D. Moore Russell D. Moore 
School of Theology
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 
Reverend Russell D. Moore is dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, he is also executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. He is a senior editor of Touchstone magazine and the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective. Reverend Moore is married with three sons.

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Dallin H. Oaks Dallin H. Oaks
Quorum of Twelve Apostles
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Former Justice
Utah Supreme Court
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since May 1984. He was a professor of law at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1971, president of Brigham Young University from 1971 to 1980, and a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1980 until his resignation in 1984 to accept his calling to the apostleship. He was also chairman of the Board of the Public Broadcasting Service from 1980 to 1985. Elder Oaks is a native of Provo, Utah. He and his late wife, June Dixon Oaks, are the parents of 6 children, 28 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. She died in 1998. In 2000 he married Kristen M. McMain.

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Vince Passaro Vince Passaro
Contributing Editor
Harper’s Magazine
Author, Violence, Nudity, Adult Content
Vince Passaro is an essayist and critic. His articles on politics, literature, culture, and social issues, including “How to Go Broke on $100,000 a Year,” have frequently appeared in Harper’s Magazine, where he is a contributing editor. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book ReviewNew YorkGeorgeElleO, The Oprah Magazine, and many others. He is the author of one novel, Violence, Nudity, Adult Content, and has published short fiction in EsquireGQOpen CityStoryBoulevard, and several other journals. His essays and short fiction appear in a number of anthologies, including Why Men Lie, for the anthology The Bastard on the Couch, which was reprinted in GQ and the Sunday Times Magazine in London, The Reader, and Before and After: Stories from New York. He is married and has three sons.

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Denise V. Rodgers Denise V. Rodgers
Chief of Staff
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Denise Rodgers, M.D., is the chief of staff for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey as well as professor of family medicine at the UMDNJ–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Rodgers has published and lectured extensively about excess mortality in minorities, racism in medicine, cultural competency, and medical education in settings that care for the underserved. Before coming to RWJMS in 1997, Dr. Rodgers was professor and vice chair in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She also served as director of the UCSF–San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Family Practice Residency Program and chief of service of family and community medicine at SFGH. She is a former president of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and is the mother of one child.

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Victoria Toensing Victoria Toensing
Justice Department Official, 1984–88
Chief Counsel, Senate Intelligence Committee, 1981–84
Victoria Toensing is a founding partner of diGenova & Toensing and an internationally known expert on white-collar crime, terrorism, national security, and intelligence matters. She was chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1981 to 1984 and a Justice Department official from 1984 to 1988. She has cohosted CNBC’s Equal Time and Rivera Live! and is a frequent legal analyst on national television programs dealing with politics, criminal justice, national security, and terrorism. Her op-ed pieces on law and national security have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and USA Today. During her 16 years in private practice, she has represented major corporations and individuals in both criminal and civil matters. Prior to law school, she was a high-school English teacher. She is married to the other founding partner of her law firm and has three grown children.

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Charmaine Yoest Charmaine Yoest
Vice President External Affairs
Family Research Council
Family, Gender and Tenure Project
University of VirginiaAuthor, Mother in the Middle
Charmaine Yoest is the vice president of external affairs for the Family Research Council and the director of the Family, Gender and Tenure Project at the University of Virginia, a nationwide study on parental leave policy. Beginning her career in the White House during the Reagan Administration, Ms. Yoest is now an author and political analyst. Her research focus is on domestic and international social policy. She is the coauthor of Mother in the Middle, an analysis of work-family and child-care policy. As an expert on domestic social policy, she has appeared frequently on television and radio programs, including The Today ShowThe NewsHour with Jim Lehrer; CNN’s Crossfire, NPR, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and she was a regular guest on Politically Incorrect. She has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the American Enterprise, and she has been a guest columnist several times for USA Today. She is married and has five children.

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Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel Daniel G. Zemel
Temple Micah
Washington, D.C.
Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel is the rabbi of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. He has served in this position since 1983. Rabbi Zemel is active in a number of local and national organizations. Included among these are his positions on the board of Micah House, a group home for homeless women sponsored by Temple Micah; Operation Understanding D.C., a black clergy–rabbi dialogue group; and as a Synagogue 2000 fellow. He has also served on the national boards of ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America) and the Commission on Social Action of the UAHC (Union of American Hebrew Congregations) and on various CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) committees. He currently serves on the CCAR-UAHC Joint Commission on Religious Living and the CCAR Task Force on Spiritual Leadership. He lives with his wife and their three teen-aged children in Washington, D.C.

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