Just like with the social issues that happen at work and with peers, the character of Andrew Beckett has to endure the following issues regarding his illness:
- lack of education regarding his condition
- public stigma associated to his condition
- labeling and stereotyping associated to his condition
- unreasonable or irrational fear from the public toward him as an AIDS patient
- unfounded or unrealistic assumptions made of him due to his disease
- discrimination, prejudice, and illegal action which, in his case, resulted in his very unethical firing after being falsely set up to make a major mistake.
The script of the movie observes a lot of verbal aggression manifested in the public opinion against homosexuals, which came up over and over in testimony during the trial against Wyant Wheeler Hellerman Tetlow & Brown for firing Andrew.
However, a poignant moment that summarizes the extent to which society shuns AIDS patients was the scene at the library. In this scene, we find Andrew using the public library while showing visible signs of AIDS. As the people stare at him uncomfortably, the librarian approaches him and says:
Sir, wouldn't you be more comfortable in a study room?
At this point Andrew sees that the people in the library are staring at him, for which he responds wisely,
No. Would it make you more comfortable?
Therefore, the ignorance of the community directly affects the civil rights of Andrew Beckett because society makes a public circus out of things that it does not know very much about.
Those who end up as the main attraction of such circus, like in the case of Andrew, will be pariahs of society for years to come. Hence, Andrew is now the scapegoat through which the hypocritical and the sanctimonious alike will caustically channel their own self-hatred and debauched tendencies in hopes of keeping an image of greatness by making the weaker link into the weakest.