PITY the poor Rhode Islander! He's dealing with the cuttingest indignity of them all: Part of his state wants to secede. It's Block Island, moping because it can't regulate mopeds. The state legislature, in its marbeled wisdom, won't let it. To be sure, Block Island is only 10 square miles, but when you're the littlest state every acre counts.
This isn't the first idiosyncrasy Rhode Island has endured: The state's name is one. Originally it was ''Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.'' Technically, Rhode Island referred only to one small island and Providence Plantations to the mainland bulk of the state. Yet the name was chopped not to Providence Plantations but Rhode Island - rather like a bulldog being wagged by its tiny tail.
In any case, the secessionists appear to be going a little far, even though mopeds aren't everybody's thing. Besides, the history of American secession movements isn't promising. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard couldn't make a go of it when they threatened to secede from Massachusetts in 1977. And we all know what happened to the Confederacy. . . .