Ribbons for everyone!Ribbons for everyone!Tying ribbons around things is not something any sane person would likely think of when wanting to take action in supporting a cause, but nonetheless, it seems to be the cornerstone of the American moral support industry. Now I don't know if this is a phenomenon unique to America, stolen by America, or practiced the world over, but it really bewilders, scares, and sometimes outright angers me. Somewhere, and likewise somehow, it became common to use colored ribbons as a means of honoring, remembering, or bringing attention to things that some people just might forget about, thus plunging the world into chaos and subsequently triggering total destruction from mountain to shore. Since then, colored ribbons have been coming in the form of actual ribbons, stickers that look like ribbons that you can slap on the back of your murderous SUV, and ugly graphics of ribbons you can sprinkle all over your hideous GeoCities site.

I understand the basic notion of showing support for something by rallying behind a symbol, like a flag, a giant fat boy holding a hamburger, or a girl in a short skirt jumping up and down with pom-poms in hand. Especially that last one, what with the jumping and the short skirt and all. Somehow, though, I wonder if there is an unseen futility in tying a yellow ribbon to a tree. Is a soldier getting shot at overseas really going to be comforted by the fact his neighbor tied a pretty little ribbon to a tree? If I were being shot at overseas in one of those crazy countries like Canada or Iraq, I think I would expect more out of people. And by that I mean I would expect crude sexual acts or possibly money or possibly even a strangely gratifying combination of the two. Furthermore, I'd ask for the ribbon to be removed, because the last thing I want tied to a tree in my honor is a ribbon. Ribbons are frilly and hardly representative of the well-oiled military machine image our armed forces work hard to maintain.

Now granted, there are times when I can see the benefits of mass ribbon saturation. If my tender bosoms were to house a cancer, it might comfort me to see a car adorned with a pink ribbon sticker. Seeing that pink ribbon would remind me that I'm not alone, and that some other poor soul is just as death-bound. The problem is that everyone seems to think that every cause is worthy of a colored ribbon. A cause like rectal cancer, for example, is one I think we would be better off not remembering or drawing attention to. In general, anything that eats you alive starting with the ass is probably best to outright deny even exists. Yet rectal cancer and thousands of other causes both reasonable and absolutely insane are regularly given the colored ribbon treatment. This leads to a massive amount of confusion, because what good is a symbol if you don't know what it stands for? I can scarcely remember what color belongs to what cause, and when people start mixing and matching colors, things get all the more difficult.

In an effort to try to stave off the frustration of not knowing what color goes with what cause, allow me to help give you a heads up with this handy listing. This is by no means a complete list of colored ribbons, because there seem to be a lot of colors I apparently know nothing about and an even larger number of causes I have no clue about.

Red, White, and Blue Ribbon
This ribbon, sometimes referred to as "The Unity Ribbon," aims to remind people that terrorists attacked the United States on September 11th of 2001. In the off chance you suffer from some sort of terminal memory loss problem and are unable to notice one of the hundreds of daily reminders of 9-11, this ribbon is the ideal means of keeping yourself in a constant state of remembrance. Once in that trance you should do everything you can to build a time machine to travel back in time and prevent 9-11 by destroying the September month in every 2001 calendar.

Yellow Ribbon
The yellow ribbon is used to show other people that you may or may not know somebody potentially involved with the armed forces and any ongoing military operations. With the yellow ribbon, tied to a tree or a lamppost near your home, people will see it and say with astonishment that, "Somebody possibly connected with whoever lives in that home has made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. God bless them and America!" Then fireworks will go off and an eagle will soar overhead. Yellow also represents the noble idea of bringing our troops, including POWs, home alive and hopefully in one piece. I don't mean bringing back every single soldier as part of one giant biomass, but each individual in one piece. It would be mighty queer if there was a ribbon symbolizing the idea of combining our fighting men and women into one bulbous monstrosity and then bringing them home that way.

Communists and/or terrorists have co-opted the yellow ribbon for the cause of teen suicide prevention. They, like the kids that kill themselves, will always be failures in life and have no chance of succeeding. The yellow ribbon is for our troops who desperately need ribbons to keep their morale strong.

Yellow and Black Ribbon
Every year, thousands of bees die of obesity. This yellow and black striped ribbon is designed not just to raise awareness of fat bees, but to also encourage people to make sure that their bees maintain a healthy diet and receive regular exercise. By taking your bee out for a short, brisk walk every day, you can help keep the fat bee problem in check.

Orange Ribbon
It is a sad fact that millions of people throughout the world are injured from swallowing orange juice pulp. The jagged edges of pulp have been known to cause irreversible damage over the course of thousands of years. The strain can leave some throats in poor condition, making it difficult to swallow, talk, or compete in hot dog eating contests. During Halloween this ribbon is also used to bring to light the dangers of leaving pumpkins on your porch too long. Dispose of them properly and punctually.

Red Ribbon

This poor ribbon suffers from a dangerous lack of T-cells.This poor ribbon suffers from a dangerous lack of T-cells. AIDS is one of the most popular diseases killing people these days, and is often connected with the red ribbon. Pinning an AIDS ribbon to your shirt is an ideal way of showing that you are in favor of the AIDS virus being cured, as opposed to hoping that it progresses and needlessly claims more lives. It is recommended that when pinning an AIDS ribbon to yourself that you take time to ensure that it does not penetrate your skin, because you will get AIDS and die.

Pink Ribbon
Breast cancer, the most common cancer to strike women's breasts, is no laughing matter, not even if it afflicts a female clown. Wear the pink ribbon and offer your support to those who have died from breast cancer, survived it, or shrunk down to the cellular level and then gotten married to it in the world's tiniest wedding.

Pink and Yellow Ribbon
As crazy as it sounds, it's entirely realistic to believe that some of our soldiers stationed abroad might be broads with breast cancer. Let's not forget their plight! Let's aim to bring them and their breasts back in one piece.

Purple Ribbon
Purple ribbons commonly represent cancer in general, which is a solid solution since every form of cancer does not need an individual ribbon. The pink ribbon is close enough to purple on the color wheel that it could easily stop trying to be a loose cannon and get with the program, thereby freeing up pink to be used by some other needy cause, like victims of expired coupons. Purple isn't exactly the Promised Land, though. The cancer patients face an uphill battle for control of this disputed ribbon against not just Wiccans, but also abused animals, anti-violence fanatics, and some Canadian women's action movement dedicated to remembering and helping women that have passed away or been abused. The Wiccans want the purple ribbon to be the symbol of their efforts to combat the negative image associated with their embarrassing and thoroughly pathetic lifestyles. The women don't need the purple ribbon since the white ribbon is used for a similar cause, and the anti-violence people aren't going to be able to defend their claim to purple. The abused animals can be awfully cute, much cuter than cancer patents, so this is not an easy battle. Obviously the Wiccans have no realistic claim either, but cancer patents and abused animals certainly do. The only logical solution is to choose a champion from each side, and make them fight to the death in a battle arena. The last human or animal standing wins the rights to the purple ribbon.

Mauve Ribbon
Mauve is one of the most under appreciated colors this side of olive, so we should take time from our busy lives of watching reality TV and ironing wrinkles out of Hawaiian shirts to remember this color and its contributions to the visual spectrum.

Blue Ribbon

First Prize Winner of protecting freedom of speech.First Prize Winner of protecting freedom of speech.The blue ribbon campaign is very recognizable to Internet users, as it appears on roughly a million sites. The aim of the blue ribbon is to raise awareness of free speech online, which is apparently under threat from some shadowy organization and needs to be preserved. I assume at some point a politician was trying to pass a bill aimed at keeping saucy pictures or words off the web, thus triggering a massive ejaculation of nerd panic. To prove that Internet censorship is a real threat, you will definitely not see any reference to the government using high tension power lines to beam controlling messages directly into our brains anywhere in this article.

Green Ribbon
Green ribbons are used to raise awareness of Swamp Thing, an obscure comic book character made famous by an obscure movie and short-lived obscure TV series. Swamp Thing, being a creature who both is and lives in the swamp, is often forgotten and overlooked, and thusly an ideal candidate for an awareness ribbon campaign. Together, we can always remember Swamp Thing and his myriad contributions to not just the swamp he calls home, but to the world. For those of you who simply fail to understand the importance of Swamp Thing, think of him as an organic Robocop that lives in a swamp. Then you will see his true beauty.

White Ribbon
The white ribbon, like the white knight, aims to protect women and not bash their faces. Violence against women might sound like the stuff of comedy movies featured on the Lifetime network, but it destroys more lives than it violently improves. If I were husband to a battered wife, I probably would not be in favor of this ribbon or the cause it represents. However, since I am largely a pacifist to the extent that I fear the prospect of all forms of physical pain, including that which results from hitting someone too hard, I fully support this. Violence is an awful solution to something that could easily be reduced to extensive long-term verbal or psychological abuse.

The white ribbon is also associated with the prevention of gay teen suicide. I realize that suicidal gay teens deal with a different set of problems than suicidal straight teens, but can't we just lump them together and hope that they don't kill themselves or each other? They're all self-hating teenagers, and if that isn't a foundation for friendship, I don't know what is. Give them an unpopular color like nutria and be done with it.

Coal Ribbon
Every year since the dawn of mining, innumerable canaries have died working in mineshafts. The coal ribbon honors their grave and powerful sacrifices while promoting the dangers of being a bird working in a mineshaft. God bless you, you yellow feathered saints! You'll live on in the birdcage of my heart forever more.

Invisible Ribbon
While there is some debate over the existence of invisible ribbons, we cannot rule out the possibility that they are there, just beyond the eye's reach. What cause might invisible ribbons promote? It's hard to tell, but if I were to guess, it would be either a secretive alien agenda or water safety, since water is naturally transparent.

I hope I cleared up any confusion you were suffering from. If we're going to live with this ridiculous system of colored ribbons, we might as well take the time to learn it. I hope that in pointing out how obfuscating it can be, I may have planted the seeds for future government regulation of colored ribbons. It's obvious some colors are being claimed for multiple causes, and that's simply not going to work out. I would certainly hate to start on some hilarious cancer jokes only to find out that I'm talking to someone who doesn't have cancer and is actually concerned with animal abuse. The results would just be awkward. Having some sort of official system would go a long way towards making the world a better place.

– Josh "Livestock" Boruff (@Livestock)

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