Doing business with a bookstore which has a small "erotic" section


A technology start-up business that I’m co-founding has as its goal helping online stores sell more by giving better experience to their clients.

As we look for our first customers, one company that we have a personal connection to and could approach for collaboration is a bookstore having an online presence.

They mostly sell regular books, but they also have an erotic section. I had a quick look at the titles and while it’s not pornography, clearly a person caring about their spiritual life should stay far away from these books.

I now see the following options:

  1. Don’t work with them at all.
  2. Put some checks in our automated system, so that if a client is interested in any of the erotic books, it doesn’t help them. Obviously, be clear about it with the bookstore owners and why we do it.
  3. Work with them as normal. This would mean that our automated system would probably on occasion contribute to the sale of the erotic books.

It seems to me that 1. is excessive, unless the bookstore was erotic in a larger part, not marginally. 2. is probably my preference, and it has the extra benefit of pointing out to the owners that not everyone thinks this is a category like any other. However, my co-founders say they don’t want to be censors, and also worry whether we could have legal problems for ethically-motivated differentiation like that.

So, in short, I wonder:
a. Could we be sued for insisting on 2. in our Terms and Conditions? While we’re in the EU, I’m curious about other legal systems too.
b. Is 3. an immoral option for us? Or given the small scale of the erotic section, no human involvement in our system, possible opposition of my co-founders, and possible legal consequences, this is permissible for me as a Catholic.

Thank you! God bless.

All legal questions should be directed to an attorney. It is against forum rules to solicit or give legal advice.

As to the morality of the situation, the principle you should look to is the concept of cooperation with evil and its varying degrees such as direct, remote, material, etc.

This is a good overview chart:

And here is an article from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

And a few others:

If it were me, I would call the Bishop’s office and ask to talk to a moral theologian. You are going on a big venture and it would be important to you to get a sound answer from the beginning. Also seminaries have good moral theologians. Hope it works out for you in some way.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

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