Saying the pledge of allegiance doesn't mean you care one bit about the country. I do not say the pledge of allegiance in the morning, but I love this country to death. People can say the pledge and grow up to be murderers, definitely not living up to the goals of the country, while people can not say the pledge and grow up to be the next president that serves the country faithfully. Actions speak louder then words!
I dint think it makes you patriotic just because its freedom of speech thats stupid. But i sont say it because its says libery and justice for all and we dont have that yet. Some in my class dont say it to make a statement and try and make our country better. Also patriotism isnt really a positive or negative character trait.
If freedom of speech is the right of people to publicly express their opinions without governmental interference and the government is pressuring its citizens to say the pledge, then the citizens are being influenced to say things they may not completely agree with, and going against this influence is utilizing the right to freedom of speech. Also, freedom of speech wasn't invented to allow people to complement the government, it was meant so people could speak out again injustice. Thus, people not saying the pledge is simply exercising their rights, so it is patriotic.
Saying nothing cannot be interpreted as patriotic. They could mean any spectrum of thing by not saying it. They could not be saying it for any set of unpatriotic ideas, one can never know if you don't speak.
Granted, a person saying it could be just going through the numbers and not believe what they are saying. At the very least though, we can ascertain that they are more likely to try and understand the meaning of what their saying. It lays the groundwork for teaching people what our nation values.
Because of it, you can ask virtually anyone out there and they can tell you we are a nation that values liberty, justice for all, and the function of a republic form of government (adequate representation in your governments doings).
It makes those beliefs a standard. It definitely has its place. It helps unify us under common ideals. You can't just assume them. You do have to speak them or have them in writing (hence declaration of independence and constitution, too). There is more power in it then.
Freedom of speech is the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. Refusal to take the pledge, because of your first amendment rights, is in fact stating that you refuse to ally with the country. If you are not with us, you are against us. Clearly not patriotic.