He didn't spend enough time listening to old people.
All his weirdness aside, had Jackson sought and heeded the advice and counsel of his elders, he wouldn't be in this mess right now.
This came to me Friday morning after spending a couple hours with Daniel Mote.
Mr. Dan was born in a log cabin, and for him and his family hunting was not a hobby, but a way to eat. He picked and carded the cotton his mother spun, wove, and dyed to make clothes for the family.
Mr. Dan didn't offer any real philosophical platitudes; nor did he make any lofty, grandfatherly speeches.
But I realized that merely by listening to him, and others like him, we can learn plenty about respect for others, love of one's family, and working for a living, rather than waiting for the state to get a lottery so we can all go out and win a huge cardboard check for a billion dollars.
Mr. Dan reminded me that it's important to be thankful for what we have, and that being humble is a good way to hold on to what you've earned.
Now, I have no idea if Jackson is guilty of anything beyond being the weirdest person on the plant. And I mean weird, not eccentric.
I am eccentric. He's just plain creepy.
I can assure you I would not be a good candidate for a juror in the case, even if I had suffered the extreme misfortune to be born in California. Little kids are a sacred trust, and he is accused of hurting a little kid.
I would have a problem being objective, since anyone that markets himself with weird behavior makes me reach instinctively for my wallet and a gun.
The other problem I have with Jackson is the obvious lack of respect he showed for the court.
One does not show up fashionably late for a court hearing, no matter how many songs one has performed that, inexplicably, went to number one.
Although the courts are abused frequently, and some of those who work in those courts are, in my opinion, candidates for drowning, I still have faith in our justice system. It guarantees that anyone, no matter what they've done or who they are, is innocent until proven guilty.
Everybody, great or small, is supposed to be treated equally-but they have the responsibility to follow a few simple rules.
The predecessors of our modern court system were quite the opposite; accusers had to put up a bond before swearing out a warrant against a suspect, among other things. A poor man who was being sued by one with political power could be continued out of existence, since each continuance required a bond by the accused and the accuser.
Here in North Carolina, we even fought a war over the court system.
Our forefathers were right serious about a fair court system.
Obviously, Jackson ain't.
If he had listened to some old people when he was younger, he might have avoided three-quarters of the problems he has now.
Because you see, old people aren't just wise. They listen, too.
They have experience and in most cases, wisdom. Sometimes an old person is the only one who can see what is causing everything else to go wrong-and it's a rare old person who won't flat-out tell you if you're wrong.
I'm not sure how to define old people; some of the most vibrant people I've known were pushing their 100th birthday, and some of the oldest souls I've ever known were only in the 60's.
You can tell an old person, though; their faces will be lined with years and worries and work and age, and far too often, loneliness.
Jackson could well have benefited from my old friend Mr. Jimmy, the World War One veteran about whom I've written before.
One of Mr. Jimmy's proudest achievements, one he could always remember, was that he'd "never been taken afore the court."
My great-grandfather Traylor, who founded a club for young men in the turbulent years leading up to that war, believed in old people sharing their experience and wisdom. He and his friends tried to instill morals, good judgement, and responsibility in a generation already growing wild.
In 1914, he admonished his boys to "never allow yourself to be brought before the courts.
"There can be no greater shame upon one's name and family," he wrote, in that precise Spencerian script he still used, forty years after it had gone out of style. "To be sued, or worse, arrested, will follow one forever."
I think about Mr. Jimmy and Mr. Traylor every time I write a name for the second or third or tenth time in a police or court story. Some of these slugs have become so familiar the spell-check on my computer recognizes their names.
I can't help but wonder if Jackson would have benefited from a few hours with Mr. Traylor, Mr. Jimmy, or Mr. Dan.
Had he listened to the horrors of a war that dismembered this country, or heard about gathering cotton dropped from a wagon, to trade for food, he might have been thankful for the easy life brought by his success. If he had sat spellbound whilst an old man told of ice forming on cypress trees while carrying his uncle out of a swamp, Jackson would have known he has no reason to whine.
With even one of these stories, Jackson might have developed a sense of respect that is missing in much of today's society.
It's a respect for virtue, good judgement, hard work, and how easily fate can take everything away from any of us.
Especially if we don't feel shame at bringing shame upon one's family name by being "taken afore the court"-much less showing up late.