And this last paragraph was interesting, on the topic of race (which was not raised by the letter-writer). On the plus side of telling:
Our country is full of people convinced that they’ve lost out through affirmative action to less-qualified minorities. Sometimes they have; very often they haven’t. (For one thing, you can be right that a white candidate lost out to a “targeted hire” but wrong to think that you were that white candidate.) It’s not just his self-esteem that’s being defended by this consoling thought, it’s a false belief that relates to an important social question.The letter writer didn't say the friend is white. And the ethicist doesn't mention that a nonwhite person might also suspect the rejection was based on race. Moreover, if the employer's decision-makers rejected the friend because of race, they probably wouldn't admit it to outsiders [or perhaps even to themselves]. If these people trumped up a bogus reason, and you told him that, he might be twisted into trying to change something about himself that wasn't even bad (which, in this case, seems to be that he was too over-the-top energetic (and the job was: teacher)).