Americans often take for granted the rule of law and a culture that values individual rights. Yet, for most of mankind’s existence, violence and barbarism were the norm. In many parts of the world, they still are.

The New York Times reports:

86 Police Officers Hurt in Paris Riots
By Katrin Bennhold

VILLIERS-LE-BEL, France, Nov. 27 — The number of police officers injured during clashes by French youths in a suburb north of Paris rose to 86 after a second bout of violence overnight in which 60 officers were hurt, including six who are in serious condition, police officials said.

Three more horror stories come from theocratic and totalitarian regimes.

ABC News reports:

Exclusive: Saudi Rape Victim Tells Her Story
Victim to Receive Whipping and Jail for Being in Nonrelative’s Car When Attacked

By Lara Setrakian
Nov. 21, 2007

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice is defending a sentence of 200 lashes for the victim of a gang rape, punished because she was in the car of a male who wasn’t a relative when the two were attacked.

Fox News reports:

British Teacher Faces 40 Lashes for Naming Class Teddy Bear ‘Muhammad’
Monday, November 26, 2007

A British primary school teacher arrested in Sudan faces up to 40 lashes for blasphemy after letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was arrested at at Khartoum’s Unity High School yesterday, and accused of insulting the Prophet of Islam.

Her colleagues said that they feared for her safety after reports that groups of young men had gathered outside the Khartoum police station where she was taken and were shouting death threats.

Fox News also reports:

150,000 Witness North Korea Execution of Factory Boss Whose Crime Was Making International Phone Calls
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean factory chief accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before 150,000 spectators, a South Korean aid group reported. …

Most North Koreans are banned from communicating with the outside world, part of the regime’s authoritarian policies seeking to prevent any challenge to the iron-fisted rule of Kim Jong Il.

A culture of reason and individual rights is a gift neither of nature nor of God. It is the achievement of a society whose intellectual leaders adopt the right philosophy. The United States is a rare a precious accomplishment, made possible by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the courage of our Founding Fathers. It is possible for us to lose our liberty (to a greater degree than we have already), and, if we do not reverse trends toward welfare statism, centralized power, and faith-based politics, we will lose it, eventually.