New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie violated one of the most sacrosanct rules of society over the weekend: He spoke on Amtrak's quiet car. THE HORROR!!!! How Christie reacted to this no-no depends on who you believe; Gawker says he huffily left the quiet car while CNN quotes a woman sitting next to him who says he was very polite about the whole thing. Christie's experience reminded me of just how much I hate the quiet car and its sanctimonious shushers.  Of course, I believe in equal time on this blog so rather than write a screed about why the quiet car is horrible, I reached out to known quiet car apologist  Lizzie O'Leary (of "Marketplace" fame) to offer an opposing point of view. Our conversation, conducted via e-mail and edited only for flow purposes, is below. Enjoy!

FIX: The quiet car is terrible. This is not a defense of Chris Christie but rather the whole concept. I understand the desire for a somewhat less loud experience while on the train.

But, people -- they are the worst -- have taken it way too far. I have been shushed on the quiet car for opening a bag of chips. A bag of chips, Lizzie!

Lizzie O' Leary:  Were they ruffled chips, Chris? Those are "notoriously" loud. I recoil at the use of the word notorious in Christie's statement. The Quiet Car is a haven of peace and quiet in an anxious and self-important world. Do all those people on the Acela really *need* to make those calls right no? No, no they do not. Lanny Davis, I'm looking at you

There are, per the very basic lineup of an Acela (Wikipedia, still waiting on official confirmation from Amtrak), at least three other business class cars where you can go make all the noise you want. One for being quiet. Off you go to the loud cars. 

FIXHere’s the thing: The train gets busy. Really busy. So, sometimes you wonder onto it with your mom – looking for two seats together. And the only ones you can find are in the quiet car. Except that your mom isn’t a quiet person — or better put she is not a SILENT person. So you are on pins and needles for the entire ride between NYC and DC when your mom blows her nose or whatever.

[Side bar: This happened to a friend of mine. Yeah, a friend.]

I put the quiet car in the same category I put the Grateful Dead and the Washington Redskins. It’s not them, it’s the people who love them I can’t stand.  Like, why does the quiet car have to be SILENT AT ALL TIMES. No one is defending the idea that you should be allowed to talk on your cell phone in the quiet car (the straw man argument is the last refuge of scoundrels and people who defend the quiet car) but I am defending the basic human right to not be shamed by a group of grown-up hall monitors who seem to have nothing better to do than serve as the quiet cops.

LOLFirst off, Cillizza, when delivering an argument with bravado, I would encouraging you choose the correct word. But I will magnanimously assume you meant "wander" here. 

Yes, the train does get crowded sometimes. I would encourage Amtrak to add more cars. By the way, I checked with them. Acela trains typically have five passenger coaches: one first class and one Quiet Car, which means three non-quiet. And Northeast Regionals have seven, so five non-quiet. Lots of space! 

But I do recognize the pain of a mom-related situation. But it sounds to me like this is perhaps something best sorted out with your ("friend's") mother before boarding. "Hey Mom, if we end up in the car with the WELL-DISPLAYED SIGNAGE about being quiet, let's act like we're in a library!" Fun! An adventure! Library-like atmosphere at all times! 

Yes, one does occasionally come across an overzealous shusher, but that is nothing compared to the crazy-intense reactions people have when being shushed. I tend to start with a very polite and friendly (with a smile!) "Excuse me [gestures to signs], this is the quiet car." Perhaps they didn't know! Perhaps they don't speak English! Perhaps they have boarded hastily, mom in tow. Most of the time, people are quite apologetic about this. If ignored, I have been known to escalate to a throat clear or second (polite) request. 

But on more than one occasion, I have encountered adult human beings, who, upon being reasonably spoken to, act like the lizard people from V. One guy called me an asshole and said he would sit wherever he'd like. Another person threatened to "smack" me. So I side with the shushers here, my friend. 

FIXOne woman’s polite shushing is another man’s sanctimonious scold.

Here’s the thing: If I wandered — spelled it right this time! — into the quiet car and started talking loudly on my cell phone about Something Super Important That Can’t Wait and you, Lizzie O’Leary, politely shushed me, I would be fine with it. (Note: This is a scenario that would never happen because I make it a point to NEVER use my cell phone for phone calls.)

But, the vast majority of your shush police are significantly less charitable in their (re)education efforts about the quiet car.  You would think I had yelled “BOMB” on a plane by the way the slightest shifting of my seat (and the creak it produces) sets off the “THIS IS THE QUIET CAR” reaction.   It’s like when you accidentally step a toe into the bike lanes here in DC; “BIKE LANE” some bike dude shouts with a sanctimony that, if properly packaged, could power the U.S. electricity grid for the next 100 years or so.

Look, I actually think we can find common ground here: People are the worst. Agree?

LOLMaybe you just don't like it when people point out you are violating the social contract?

Being a good journalist, I want to see this action firsthand, so I can know whether you deserve to be shushed. Perhaps the Fix doth protest too much.

Some people are truly awful, and I will allow that there is a tiny minority that really gets off on enforcing the rules. As for me, I just like the silence. I can read, sleep, write. If you let me do all these things in peace I will let you in my Quiet Car. But if you so much as text with the sound on when we are in a Quiet Car together, I hope you know that I will cut you.