May 6, 2020:

In her arguments there is no search for truth. Her logics are superficial exercises in dominance, struggles for superiority built on manipulation of alternative meanings and simple semantic inversions. In principle they're puns, with evil rather than humorous intent. The kind of verbal ju-jitsu that gave Sophistry its bad name.

In time I gave it a different name: "teenage lawyer bullshit". Meaning: trivial, transparent, amateur manipulation of words whose author, despite its emptiness, is nevertheless quite proud. Of it, and herself. She felt the contempt in that. It hurt her, but it was accurate, and she deserved it.

It's not possible to succeed with a person who argues dishonestly. Whose purpose is victory rather than solution. She or he or they or em can't be trusted. They're fighting for advantage rather than resolution. They want to own the relationship, to pound it into a close-fitting shape that looks like them, rather than some kind of mashup of the two of you. Its dialectic is about take, contra give-and-take. Ultimately I think the best word for it is "frightened", although "small" would also work.